Istanbul: Two Turkish restaurant workers have been detained in Libya by Libyan National Army forces, suspected of spying for Turkey.

The Turkish Haberturk newspaper said Volkan Altinok and Mehmet Demir, who worked in a restaurant in the south of the capital Tripoli, have been held since April 12 in a prison near Benghazi.

Turkish authorities have denied that the two men were spies.

However, Turkey and Qatar, are the main backers of the Tripoli-based government, which is backed by a myriad of Islamist militias.

The Turkish foreign ministry declined to comment.

The LNA mounted an offensive on Tripoli, in the west of the country, three weeks ago.

It has so far failed to breach defences in the city’s south despite heavy fighting.

The LNA under the command of General Khalifa Haftar says that Tripoli must be liberated from extremist groups controlling it.