"We will never accept colonialism. The Turks have stayed in Libya for 300 years and the Libyans have seen nothing but evil," said Libyan National Army chief Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar on Saturday during a visit with the Tariq bin Ziyad battalion.
Haftar was photographed meeting with LNA officers as part of his tour inside the battalion’s headquarters to check on their battle preparations.
“The Libyans will confront each colonizer and will expel him. We are on the lookout and their expulsion will be our main goal,” Hafar said during his speech.
Turkish forces have been stationed in the country supporting forces and mercenaries linked to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in western Libya.
Haftar also spoke on his regret on the recruitment of mercenaries by Turkey from a "dear country like Syria," adding that “these are not Syrians but rather mercenary groups with no homeland and no family.”
Turkey sent more than 400 mercenaries to Libya last week, raising the total number of Syrian mercenaries deployed to Libya to 16,500, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Meanwhile, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash urged Turkey to stop interfering in Arab affairs, mockingly referring to the Ottoman empire which collapsed a century ago.
“The provocative statement of the Turkish Minister of Defense is a new [failure for] his country’s diplomacy…Relations are not managed with threats and intrusions, and there is no place for colonial illusions at this time, and it is more appropriate for Turkey to stop interfering in Arab affairs,” Gargash wrote on Twitter.