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Turkey Pulls out Some Mercenaries from Libya

Turkey Pulls out Some Mercenaries from Libya

Tuesday, 23 March, 2021 - 06:00
Libyan youths are seen at the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. (Reuters)

A batch of foreign mercenaries has been flown out of Libya, revealed sources at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport.

Some 120 pro-Turkey mercenaries, who had been flown in from Syria, departed Tripoli on Sunday as security forces in the capital kicked off a plan to secure the capital.

The mercenaries were flown to Turkey ahead of their return to Syrian regions under Ankara’s control, added the sources.

The security plan will see the deployment of various patrols inside Tripoli and at its vital installations.

Neither the new Government of National Unity (GNU) nor Turkey commented on the withdrawal.

Informed sources said, however, that the pullout “is part of a regional understanding aimed at ending the presence of mercenaries in Libya.”

Part of this understanding was struck during negotiations between Egypt, Turkey, Russia and the United States.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Khalifa Haftar, did not comment on the development. Officials from the military stated that they were “aware of an agreement to deport the mercenaries.”

They welcomed the move, saying it meets the demands of the LNA to end the military presence of Turkey, mercenaries and their loyalists in Libya.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the deported mercenaries were members of the Sultan Murad Division. The war monitor spoke of the “deplorable” conditions the mercenaries had to put up with in Libya, adding that they have not been receiving their monthly wages.

Separately, the European Union slapped sanctions on Monday on Mohammed Khalifa al-Kani, leader of the notorious al-Kaniyat militia, and his brother Abderrahim al-Kani, a member of the same militia. Both are accused of committing extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances between 2015 and June 2020 in the town of Tarhuna, which they had controlled for years.

Since their escape from Tarhuna last summer following a military defeat, dozens of mass graves have been discovered and attributed to al-Kaniyat militiamen. Last year, the US Treasury targeted al-Kaniyat and its leader over the same alleged crimes.

Meanwhile, parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh made a surprise visit to Cairo on Sunday for talks with Egyptian officials over the formation of a parliamentary committee that would pave the way for nominations for candidates to sovereign positions.

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