France has temporarily pulled out of a NATO security operation amid a major row with Turkey, as the French Defence Ministry said Paris had suspended its role in Operation Sea Guardian, accusing Turkey of violating an arms embargo against Libya.
"Now France has suspended its role in Operation Sea Guardian. It doesn't make sense to keep our assets with allies who do not respect the embargo," a French defence official said.
This comes weeks after Turkish ships allegedly targeted a French warship in the Mediterranean; something Ankara strongly denies.
Turkey denies the French allegation, saying the interaction was friendly. Both countries have traded insults in recent weeks. On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey of "historic and criminal responsibility" in the Libyan conflict, "for a country which claims to be a NATO member".
Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Tuesday that France had been "destructive" in Libya, and accused the country of trying "to increase Russia's presence in Libya". While on Thursday, he asked France to apologise for its allegations about the incident.
A NATO official said a classified report by its military authorities on the Mediterranean ship incident would be discussed by alliance member states soon. It said participation in Nato missions was a national decision, adding that Operation Sea Guardian continued to carry out maritime situational awareness, counter terrorism and capacity building, according to Anadolu Agency.
Turkey's ambassador to France Ismail Hakki Musa had earlier told French senators that Paris was withdrawing after the investigation into the incident in the Mediterranean had been inconclusive and did not back Paris's claims
Musa denied the French account, telling senators that it was the French warship that had been aggressive. He said the ship in question had been carrying humanitarian aid.