The Turkish navy and air forces have conducted large-scale military exercises in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the country's Defence Ministry said on Friday.

"In an effort to practice and improve the uninterrupted conduct of long-distance operational tasks directed by operations centers in Turkey, Turkish Naval and Air Forces conducted High Seas Exercises on 11 June 2020. The exercise was jointly planned and successfully concluded", the statement read.

During the 8-hour mission extending nearly 2000 km away from Turkish territorial waters, command and control procedures were practiced, exercises that included in-flight refueling, joint naval-air operations were conducted and the maritime and air picture was built and shared. pic.twitter.com/v7PzSKYSYu

— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) June 12, 2020

The ministry added that drills extended almost 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles) away from Turkish territorial waters under the operational command of Combined Air Operations Centre.

"The participating assets included 17 aircraft under the operational command of Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) of Combatant Air Forces Command based in Eskişehir and 8 frigates and corvettes under the operational control of Naval Forces Command and tactical command of the Northern Task Group Command", the statement said.

According to the Ministry, participating naval units had been deployed to various parts of the Mediterranean Sea before the exercise. The 8-hour drills included in-flight refueling and practicing command and control procedures.

On 6 June, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi unveiled the Cairo initiative, envisaging a ceasefire in Libya beginning at 06:00 a.m. (04:00 GMT) on 8 June and conditions for a political settlement. The UN-backed Libyan government rejected the deal. Following this announcement, armed forces loyal to the LNA have launched a counteroffensive against the forces headed by Fayez Sarraj near Misrata.

Turkey Planning to Establish 2 Permanent Military Bases in Libya

Turkey is planning to establish two permanent military bases in Libya as part of its continued support for the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported on Friday, citing military sources.

According to the newspaper, Libya’s GNA is considering giving the Turkish military use of the recently recaptured Al-Watiya Air Base for the stationing of air defence systems and combat drones. GNA forces recaptured the base from the rival Libyan National Army (LNA) on 18 May. The second base will reportedly be established in the port of Misrata for Turkish naval vessels.

Ankara may become a co-owner of offshore oil companies that are based in Libya’s exclusive economic zone, meaning that Turkish warships will be necessary to monitor drilling operations, the newspaper reported. Turkey also believes that the ongoing tensions with Greece make it necessary for warships to be deployed in the region.

Turkey has provided extensive military support to the GNA since a request was made for assistance in late 2019. The GNA forces have made significant gains during a counteroffensive on the outskirts of Tripoli, reclaiming territory from the LNA in recent weeks.

UN-led talks aimed at reaching a ceasefire in Libya resumed this week as GNA and LNA military officials convened for a video conference in the 5+5 format after a hiatus caused by the escalation of violence in the country and the global coronavirus disease pandemic.

Haftar Air Forces Strike GNA Positions in Northwestern Libya, Spokesman Says

The air forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an airstrike on troops and military supplies of the Government of National Accord (GNA) based to the south of the northwestern city of Misrata, despite a ceasefire initiative recently announced by Egypt, LNA spokesman Brig. Gen. Khaled Mahjoub has told Sputnik.

"The Libyan air forces targeted a car, loaded with ammunition, and military personnel of the GNA forces in a severe airstrike in As-Saddadah area, south of the city of Misrata", Mahjoub said, adding that there were casualties in the strike.

According to the LNA military information division, the air forces managed to destroy a Turkish air defence system in the attack.

Ankara has given its support to the GNA during the ongoing conflict with Haftar's army. Turkish troops and military equipment have been shipped to Libya after the GNA made an official request for military assistance at the end of 2019.