Turkey hires Tunisian, Sudanese mercenaries to fight in Libya

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Mon, 20 Jul 2020 - 10:40 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Fighters loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) celebrate after regaining control over the city, in Tripoli, Libya, June 4, 2020. REUTERS/Ayman Al-Sahili

FILE PHOTO: Fighters loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) celebrate after regaining control over the city, in Tripoli, Libya, June 4, 2020. REUTERS/Ayman Al-Sahili

CAIRO – 20 July 2020: Sudanese authorities declared the arrest of 160 individuals, including two foreigners, as they were attempting to cross the borders into Libya to work as mercenaries and fight in the ranks of the Government of National Accord (GNA) militias.

 

A statement was released by Commander of Rapid Support Forces in Northern Darfour Gado Hamdan as he said, "sending Sudanese people to fight as mercenaries in Libya is unacceptable…We are still observing and guarding the borders with Libya to combat illegal migration, human trafficking, and cross-border criminal organizations."

 

The commander had previously announced that 122, including eight minors, were detained while trying to infirtlate into Libya. In February, 243 others were arrested.

 

Al Arabiyah reported that around 2,500 Tunisian Islamic State militants were transported by Turkey into Libya.  

 

Spokesperson of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Ahmed al-Mesmary stated on July 17 that Turkey had transported into Libya 25,000 mercenaries.

 

Mesmary stated in a phone-in on July 12 that Turkey has transported into Libya 17,000 Syrian mercenaries as well as heavy arms and armored vehicles. In addition, it deployed marine vessels on coasts western Libya.

 

Sources told Al Arabiyah that two flights landed in Misrata from Turkey on July 13, and that they were carrying 356 Syrian and Tunisian mercenaries. It is noted that Turkey had transported into Libya 1,400 Tunisian mercenaries from Syria's Aleppo and Idlib as they transited in Istabul and Ghaziantep.

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Resources (SOHR) reported that Turkey is still training Syrian militants on its lands and transferring them to Libya, despite the return of 3,200 to Syria.

The observatory revealed that around 300 Syrian mercenaries are aged between 14 and 18 in Libya, and that around 432 Syrian militants were killed in confrontations with the LNA, including 30 minors and leaders.

SOHR also reported that 400 Syrian mercenaries left Libya, and illegally entered European countries through Italy.

 

On June 20, Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi declared Sirte and Al Jufrah a red line, that if crossed, a direct intervention by Egypt will be internationally legitimate. That is because it will be requested by the elected House of Representatives and the Libyan tribes, and aligned with the UN Security Council resolutions and Berlin Conference calling for a political solution, and banning arms transfer into Libya.

 

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu said in press statements Monday that a ceasefire will not be in the interest of the Government of National Accord (GNA) at present adding that it should first take over Sirte and Al Jufrah airbase.

 

The GNA is an interim non-elected government that is recognized by the United Nations.

 

On July 16, Libyan tribes' leaders met with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and requested the intervention of the Egyptian Armed Forces to repel Turkey and its mercenaries from entering central Libya. The same demand was made by the Libyan House of Representatives on July 14.

 

Mesmary said that the GNA is marginalized, and that western Libya is controlled by the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in coordination with the Turkish branch.

 

The LNA spokesperson accused the GNA of treason describing its members as "agents," and saying they work against the interests of Libya. The spokesperson underlined that the LNA fights for peace in Libya while Turkey aims for blackmailing Europe through controlling illegal migration from the North African state.

 

Mesmary asserted that Turkey eyes Libyan oil resources, and that is why it had threatened of targeting Sirte and Al Jufrah in central Libya as they compose the portal to Libyan oil fields and facilities.

 

Libyan tribes announced the closure of oil ports and field in January as the revenues were used by the GNA to pay militants. Early in July, the tribes declared that oil facilities would resume operations. However, the LNA announced on July 11 that such facilities would remain closed until the demands of the Libyan people on dismantling militias are fulfilled. The Libyan National Oil Corporation (NCO) announced that the value of revenues lost until present is $6.5 billion.

 

The communication office of the Turkish presidency declared on July 6 Al Jufrah Airbase a military target of the country's forces stationed in Libya pointing out that Sirte is a key city given it is the portal to Libyan oil resources.

 

The statement comes one day after several "unknown aircraft" launched nine strikes against Oqba Bin Nafea Airbase located in Al Watiyah controlled by the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Turkey. The outcome was the destruction of Hawk air defense systems, and a Koral electronic warfare system as well as the killing of a Turkish commander, and six officers as the operations room they were in was hit.

 

It is noted that in May the GNA captured Al Watiyah, and Tarhouna, which was the last stronghold of the Libyan National Army western Libya. Sirte, which lies in central Libya, was restored by the LNA in January one month after the GNA and Turkey signed two MoUs on defense and gas drilling eastern the Mediterranean.

 

As a consequence, Turkey transported into Libya thousands of Syrian mercenaries and sent 1,500 Turkish officers and experts to co-command militias' operations rooms.

 

Libyan military sources told Youm7 on July 7 that the LNA is reinforcing its defenses in Sirte and Al Jufrah to repel any attempts by the GNA or "mercenaries" to advance. The LNA installed advanced air defense systems in both towns as military reinforcements have reached militias eastern Misrata within a plan to move towards Sirte.

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