The offensive has split the international community: The rival regime led by commander Gen. Khalifa Haftar has been backed the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France and Russia, according to The Associated Press, while Sarraj’s government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.
Erdogan and Sarraj recently signed a deal allowing Ankara to send military experts and personnel to the volatile region, the AP reported, and some in Turkey have argued that threats to the Libyan government could “spread instability to Turkey.”
Erdogan and Trump also discussed ongoing violence in Syria’s Idlib province along the Turkish border, where Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s forces have sought to retake one of the last rebel strongholds in the country. The weekslong offensive has sent hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing north toward Turkey, prompting Trump to issue a vague warning to Assad via Twitter last week.
“The leaders agreed on the need for de-escalation in Idlib, Syria, in order to protect civilians,” the White House readout of Trump and Erdogan’s call said.
The White House statement made no mention of whether the presidents discussed Turkey’s campaign against U.S.-allied Kurds in northern Syria, which Trump paved the way for by withdrawing U.S. troops from the region this fall. The U.S. president later condemned the Turkish operation.