ISTANBUL (AP) -- Turkey vowed Sunday to respond to any attacks on its vessels or interests after a Libyan force said they were legitimate targets in that country's civil war.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said there would be "heavy" consequences to any "hostile attitude or attacks."
His comments came after a spokesman for the self-styled Libyan National Army called Turkish assets in Libya "legitimate targets," accusing Turkey of helping rival militias allied with the U.N.-supported government.
Akar said Turkey was in Libya to support "regional peace and stability." His comments were carried by the official Anadolu news agency.
The LNA, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, controls much of the country's east and south. It launched an offensive against Tripoli, where a weak, U.N.-aligned government is based, in April.
Authorities in areas under Hifter's control asked Turkish nationals to leave the country.
Restaurants in the eastern city of Benghazi have started to change out Turkish names to avoid reprisal. A popular restaurant in the city, where Hifter's forces are based, announced that it would change its name "in solidarity with our beloved country," referring to Libya.