Tobruk-based General Khalifa Haftar has ordered his forces to bomb Italian vessels deployed in a mission to provide naval support to Libya, according to a tweet published by broadcaster Al Arabiya. Haftar’s order reportedly follows a vote of the Tobruk parliament tied to his faction, which expressed opposition to the Italian naval operation, saying the presence of foreign vessels in Libyan waters represented a “violation of national sovereignty”.
The Italian Lower House and Senate Wednesday voted in favor of the government’s naval mission to support the Libyan coast guard to combating human traffickers and help stem a migrant flow that is causing massive strain on the Italian authorities.
Most of the over 95,000 migrants who landed in Italy so far this year started their journey across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya.
Haftar is a rival to the internationally-backed Tripoli-based Premier Fayez Sarraj.