Turkey deploys Syrian allies in Libyan civil war
Turkey is sending its Syrian allies to Libya to support the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) which has been encircled in Tripoli.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey would send its armed forces to Libya after Fayez al-Sarraj’s GNA asked for help in its battle against General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
Turkey’s presidency has submitted a parliamentary motion to formally send troops to Libya.
Parliament is set to debate the motion on Thursday with a clear majority in favour.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party and the Good Party and Peoples’ Democratic Party have come out against it.
Haftar seized most of eastern and southern Libya and moved on Tripoli in April.
Erdogan’s move is seen as protecting Turkish business interests in Libya and to bolster its energy claims in the eastern Mediterranean around Cyprus.
The move could also put Turkey at odds with other states that are backing the LNA, including Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Syrian sources with contacts in Tripoli have reported that Syrian rebels backed by Turkey have already been deployed in the Libyan civil war.
Since the fall of the Gaddafi dictatorship in October 2011, one prime minister has fled the country and the country has split into militia and tribal zones.
It has become a safe haven for the so-called Islamic State and the main route to traffic African migrants to Europe.
Haftar promises to reunite the oil-rich state and “drive out Islamists and terrorists”. But he has been stuck in a stalemate around Tripoli.
Russia has also sent Haftar its Wagner Brigade, a Russian mercenary army which has reportedly turned the battle for Tripoli in Haftar’s favour.
The UAE has sent technology to block Turkish Bayraktar drones that Erdogan sent to help the GNA’s allies.
Turkish moves to send ethnic Turkmen militants from Syria to Libya to fight with the GNA has been confirmed by the Syrian opposition.
“They get very high salaries and have been promised Turkish nationality,” an unnamed Syrian source said. It is believed 500 Syrians are due to be sent to Libya, drawn from former Free Syrian Army militias, controlling an area between the Euphrates and the town of Azaz between territory held by the Assad regime in Damascus and Kurdish forces, who Turkey labels terrorists.
A Free Syrian Army member in Syria. Picture credit: Wikimedia