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Libya's Sarraj declined Russia invitation, Turkish President Erdogan reveals Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Libya's Sarraj declined Russia invitation, Turkish President Erdogan reveals

Sarraj reportedly declined the invitation to Moscow [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 June, 2020

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Libya's prime minister declined an invitation to meet the Russians in Moscow, as the conflict continues to spiral.

Libya Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has reportedly refused to visit Russia, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper reported.

The Libyan official informed Erdogan that he had declined the meeting when he met the Turkish president in Ankara last week, the report added.

It came after Libya's Foreign Minister, Mohammed Taher Siala denied plans that Sarraj was due to visit Moscow.

Ankara supports Libya's UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and has stepped up military support to Tripoli against militia leader, Khalifa Haftar.

Turkey has helped the GNA, with drones and air defence systems, inflict a series of battlefield setbacks in recent weeks on Haftar's forces who have been fighting to take Tripoli since April last year.

Russia has been accused of sending several thousand mercenaries from private Russian security company Wagner to support Haftar, accusations the Kremlin denies.

The Turkish leader said while Moscow denied any of its soldiers were in Libya, there was Russian military hardware in the North African country including combat jets.

On Tuesday, Erdogan said he would discuss developments in Libya with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after expressing concerns over Moscow's stance toward an Egyptian propsed ceasefire.

Two days after it was announced a large convoy of Egyptian military hardware - including tanks and attack helicopters - was reportedly seen crossing the Libyan border.

The plan was swiftly rejected by the country's UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) who on Sunday bombarded Sirte, the last major settlement before the traditional boundary between western and eastern east begins.

The battle to retake Sirte, the key gateway to the country's major oil fields in the east, follows the recapture of all remaining outposts of western Libya from pro-Haftar militias.

It marks 14-months since Haftar - whose stronghold is in the east - began his failed offensive to gain control of the capital.

Read also: Erdogan reaches 'agreements' with Trump over Libya conflict

Libya has been mired in fighting since before the 2011 overthrow of brutal dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

But the latest phase of the conflict began after Turkey signed security and maritime agreements with Libya's GNA late last year.

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