The Libyan warlord is running for the country’s upcoming presidential elections.
Qatar helped release seven Turkish civilians on Sunday after they were held by Libya’s Khalifa Haftar’s forces for two years.
According to the Daily Sabah, Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization [MIT] and Ankara’s foreign ministry worked with Qatari intelligence to ensure the safe release and return of the ex-detainees.
“We thank the Libyan and Qatari governments, especially the related institutions that contributed to the process of the release of our citizens,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“During this process, the situation of our citizens was being constantly followed and intensive efforts were exerted to ensure their safe release by all our relevant units and institutions, particularly our embassy in Tripoli and National Intelligence Organization,” added the foreign ministry.
The civilians worked at restaurants and bakeries in Libya and were identified as: Ilker Saglık; Dogan Kıssa; Nurettin Calık; Halil Gozel; Ahmet Selvi, Hidayet Yaprak; and Abdul Samet Akcay.
Eastern Libya’s rebel commander Haftar and his forces launched an offensive to capture Tripoli in April 2019 with the support of Egypt, Russia, France and the UAE.
Turkey also led a military intervention during the second Libyan civil war in January last year after signing a maritime memorandum with the internationally-backed Government of National Unity [GNA].
Ankara has aimed to put an end to attacks conducted by Haftar’s coalition, which was forced out of northwestern Libya last year.
The GNA came into office after years of instability following the overthrow of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi – one of various Arab leaders who faced widespread protests during the 2011 Arab Spring.
Presidential elections are now scheduled to take place on 24 December following the UN-brokered ceasefire. Meanwhile legislative polls have been delayed amid a split between two rival administrations—Libya’s eastern-based army and its Tripoli-based government.
Haftar is among those running for the presidency, as is the son of Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, who himself is accused of human rights abuses.