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Erdogan Expects Russia to Take Positive Steps on the 'Wagner Group' Issue

Erdogan Expects Russia to Take Positive Steps on the 'Wagner Group' Issue

Saturday, 7 March, 2020 - 07:45
Smoke rises from Mitiga airport in Tripoli late February, 2020. (Reuters)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that he expects Russian President Vladimir Putin to take positive steps in regard to what he described as the “Wagner mercenaries” in Libya.

Addressing reporters, Erdogan said he received good news from his Russian counterpart during their Libya discussions, adding if Russia's promises were implemented, our work with Head of the Government of National Accord Fayez al-Sarraj will become easier.

Erdogan has repeatedly accused Russia of sending up to 2,500 members from the Wagner Group, which is a Russian private security company backing the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.

The Turkish president also criticized Haftar, accusing him of fueling war and violating deals.

GNA and Turkey signed security and military Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on November 27 to boost bilateral cooperation in the military and security fields. The MoU highlighted military training, counter-terrorism, and illegal migration.

Earlier, Erdogan said his country has sent Syrian opposition fighters to Libya.

It was Turkey's first time to admit sending these elements which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated they were almost 3,600 fighters from pro-Turkish factions and brigades in Syria.

LNA has escalated its direct attacks against Turkish targets in Tripoli and announced killing dozens of “pro-Turkish mercenaries,” shooting down more than 30 “drones” and destructing Turkish air defense platforms at Mitiga Air Base.

Erdogan recently said two Turkish soldiers were killed in Libya, while the LNA announced killing more than 20 Turkish fighters.

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