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Eastern Libya military leader Haftar's forces seize Turkish ship

It was not immediately clear what ship was carrying, though Ankara has reportedly sent military supplies to Libya in violation of UN arms embargo
Khalifa Haftar in June threatened to attack Turkish interests in Libya (AFP)

Eastern forces loyal to Libyan military leader Khalifa Haftar said on Saturday that they had seized a Turkish ship to search its cargo, hours after the Turkish parliament approved a security and military cooperation deal with Libya.

Ankara signed the agreement with the UN-recognised Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) just weeks after concluding a controversial deal on maritime jurisdiction, AFP said.

Haftar launched an offensive in April to seize Tripoli from fighters loyal to the GNA, the latest unrest in the North Africa country since a Nato-backed uprising ousted and killed former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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The Turkish ship, registered in Grenada, was taken to the port of Ras al-Helal near the eastern city of Derna "to search and verify its cargo," Ahmed al-Mesmari, spokesman for Haftar's forces, said in a statement.

The forces loyal to Haftar provided Reuters with a video that shows them stopping the ship and questioning three crew members. They also published copies of passports of three Turkish nationals.

It was not immediately clear what the ship was carrying. Ankara has sent military supplies to Libya in violation of a United Nations arms embargo, according to a report by UN experts seen by Reuters last month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Ankara is ready to send troops into Libya if requested by Tripoli, but no request has been made.

The latest Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding also covers increased cooperation in the fields of intelligence, terrorism, the defence industry and migration.

Haftar had in June threatened to attack Turkish interests in Libya.