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 -16 November 2020: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) announced that the total of mercenaries sent by Turkey to Libya amounted to 18,000 Syrians, in addition to 2,500 Tunisians, to fight alongside the Government of National Accord(GNA) in its war against the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
The Syrian Observatory stated, in a statement Saturday, that among those mercenaries, there are 350 children under the age of 18.
The SOHR added that 10,750 mercenaries had returned to Syria after ending their contracts and receiving their financial dues, stressing that 10,000 other mercenaries are still loyally affiliated to Turkey.
The observatory confirmed that the total number of mercenaries killed in the battles in Libya amounted to 496. This is in addition to the hundreds of elements who were injured or lost. These were all lured with money by Turkish intelligence and turned into mercenaries.
Mercenaries used to receive a monthly salary of about $2,000, which Turkey later reduced to $600.
On Friday, the bodies of 26 Syrian mercenaries were found in the city of Tarhuna, south of the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Tarhuna Hospital announced, according to local media, that it had delivered 26 bodies of Syrian mercenaries, who were recently identified by the Missing Persons Commission, as they were taken out of graves inside Tarhuna.
The hospital stated that the bodies belonged to a special Turkish unit and that they were transferred to the Misurata military base, western Libya in preparation for their transfer to their home.
Hundreds of Syrian mercenaries brought by Turkey were killed during clashes with the Libyan army in Tripoli, and hundreds fled through illegal immigration to southern Europe.
According to SOHR, brokers continue attracting youth from refugee camps to join the fight in Libya under Turkish leadership in exchange for funds, thus taking advantage of the tragic living circumstances and economic challenges in these areas.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Turkish mercenaries in Libya used Libya as a gateway to Italy to enter the European Union.
Since the Berlin Conference on Libya was held in January 2020, Turkish flights carrying weapons and mercenaries to western Libya have not stopped, although Turkish President Erdogan participated in the conference.
Turkey exerts extensive efforts to thwart attempts to implement the ceasefire agreement signed between the Libyan factions in Geneva on October 23 by violating the terms of the agreement, as the Turks keep on training Libyan elements, and refuse to withdraw mercenaries and officers from the Libyan bases.
Ankara has been accused by many Libyans of harboring several fleeing Libyan extremists and of providing financial aid to brotherhood groups in the country.
Since January, Turkey has been transporting Syrian mercenaries into the North African state and has sent military officers and experts to command the operation rooms of the militias affiliated to the GNA.
Civil war broke out in Libya after the toppling of long-time ruler Muammer Gaddafi in 2011, who was later killed. Numerous militias are fighting for power and influence in the country, with Tripoli-allied militias backed by Turkey, Qatar and Italy. Meanwhile, eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France and Russia.