France suspends role in NATO naval operation
France’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday that France sent a letter Tuesday to NATO saying it is suspending its participation in Sea Guardian “temporarily.”
France on Wednesday suspended its participation to NATO's naval mission Sea Guardian, French media reported.
According to an article of French daily L'Opinion, the country's permanent representative to NATO, Muriel Domenach, sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to inform him of the decision.
Paris opted to withdraw from the mission due to recent tension with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
France last week claimed that Turkey harassed one of its vessels taking part in a NATO mission in the Mediterranean. Turkish military officials denied the allegations.
Stoltenberg said NATO officials were looking into the incident, adding: "Those two NATO allies have totally different views on what actually happened."
But everyone agrees "that we need to support the UN efforts to find a politically negotiated solution to the conflict in Libya," he added.
Ankara and Paris have recently been at odds due to their conflicting policies in Libya, which has been ravaged by a civil war since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
While Turkey supports Libya's legitimate UN-recognized government, Turkish officials accuse France of deepening the conflict by backing warlord Khalifa Haftar.
The internationally recognized government has been under attack by Haftar's forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.
In March, the Libyan government launched Operation Peace Storm to counter attacks on the capital and recently retook strategic locations, including Al-Watiya airbase and the strategic city of Tarhuna.
NATO'S Operation Sea Guardian is a maritime security mission in the Mediterranean Sea expanded in 2016 to maintain "maritime situational awareness, deter and counter terrorism and enhance capacity building," according to the alliance.