Turkey has sent a new batch of Syrian mercenaries to Libya despite local and international demands to withdraw all foreign forces ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for December 24.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said 150 mercenaries from the pro-Ankara Libyan National Army, including al-Majd Corps, Sultan Murad and al-Hamza Divisions, arrived in Tripoli on Friday.
This batch was sent to replace the 140 mercenaries who have left Libyan territories back to Syria.
The war monitor accused the Turkish government of deceiving Syrian, regional and international public opinion on its engagement in Libya.
There are currently about 7,000 mercenaries from armed factions loyal to Turkey in Libya, 2,000 of whom have been ordered to return home. There are intentions to keep some of them there to protect the Turkish bases, according to the Observatory.
Turkey sent about 20,000 Syrian mercenaries to Libya after signing the memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation with the Government of National Accord (GNA) then headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.
In mid-November, Turkey rebuffed French President Emmanuel Macron’s call on foreign powers to remove their forces from Libya as part of efforts to turn a page on a decade of strife.
Macron told an international conference on Libya in Paris that “Russia and Turkey must withdraw their mercenaries without delay.”
The continued Turkish military presence in Libya will help support political stability and security in the country, presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin stressed.
“We are there as a force of stability and to help the Libyan people. And our priority as far as security is concerned is to help the Libyans establish their united Libyan National Army,” he affirmed.