Turkey on Tuesday blasted France's “destructive” approach to the conflict in Libya and accused it of seeking to increase Russian presence there, in an escalating tension between the two NATO allies.

It was the latest in a string of increasingly testy exchanges between the two countries over the issue.

“France, which Macron governs or rather which he can't manage to govern at the moment, has been in Libya only for its own interests and ambitions with a destructive approach just like it pushed Africa to instability in the past with a colonialist approach, and like it bombed and quit Libya in 2011,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.

One day prior, French President Emmanuel Macron accused fellow NATO member Turkey of “criminal responsibility” over its involvement in the Libyan conflict, in an escalating row with Ankara.

Turkey has increased its military presence “and massively re-imported jihadist fighters from Syria” even after foreign powers agreed earlier this year to end their meddling and respect a UN arms embargo, Macron told reporters.

“I think this is a historic and criminal responsibility for someone who claims to be a member of NATO,” Macron said after holding talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Meseberg castle near Berlin.

Turkey’s conduct in Libya is “unacceptable to us,” Macron said, adding that the moment had come for Ankara to “urgently clarify” its stance.

Ankara supports Libya’s Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in the conflict against eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar.