EU warns Libyan conflict could mirror Syria

European Union leaders met Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj on Wednesday as they redoubled efforts to prevent the civil war in Libya from spiralling out of control, news site 24 Matins reported.

Turkey has deployed 35 military advisers and trainers to support Sarraj’s Government of National Accord, which faces off against General Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army and its backers from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The EU’s diplomatic chief Josep Borrell met Sarraj on Wednesday, warning that Libya was reaching a “watershed point”.

Sarraj also met EU Council President Charles Michel and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who said Libya was in danger of slipping into a regional proxy war, comparing the situation to the nine-year conflict in Syria.

Borrell condemned Turkey’s involvement in the conflict on Wednesday and called for an end to foreign interference in Libya.

But Haftar is also backed by strong military support from foreign countries, and Emirati air power reportedly helped his forces seize the coastal city of Sirte this week.

The Libyan National Army launched an offensive to take the capital city last year, but the Tripoli government rebuffed its advance with the help of Turkish-supplied drones and armoured vehicles.

Haftar announced he was restarting the assault on Tripoli in December, calling the latest advance the final battle for the city.

The EU pledged to step up its efforts to find a peaceful political solution to the conflict, and called on all sides to respect the arms embargo in the country, call a ceasefire and adhere to the peace negotiations known as the Berlin process.

Maas said talks could be held in Berlin in the coming weeks, though no date has been indicated, 24 Matins reported.

Michel is due to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan this weekend, while Borrell will meet other Libyan leaders including Haftar to seek a breakthrough.

Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin called for a ceasefire in Libya after meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday to inaugurate a new gas pipeline.