France has pulled out of Nato-led anti-smuggling patrols in the Mediterranean, accusing Turkey, a fellow member of the Western military alliance, of taking arms to Libya.
In a statement, the French defence ministry said it was suspending its participation in Operation Sea Guardian to shine a spotlight on an anti-trafficking operation, of which the smugglers were a part.
It said that regardless of a clash at sea between the allies’ navies last month, the real problem was that Turkey, a Nato member, was repeatedly violating the arms embargo on Libya.
Tensions have escalated since a Turkish warship prevented a French frigate inspecting a suspected arms cargo aboard a Tanzanian vessel last month.
Turkey supports the UN-backed government in Tripoli, while France is seen as a backer of General Khalifa Haftar’s rival force.