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Turkey Resumes Transfer of Syrian Mercenaries in Libya

Turkey Resumes Transfer of Syrian Mercenaries in Libya

Thursday, 14 July, 2022 - 09:00
Two local militiamen during battles that took place in 2019 near the Yarmouk camp in Tripoli. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Turkey has resumed the back-and-forth transfer of Syrian mercenaries operating in Libya following the decision in late June to halt the transfer process until the end of 2022.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) revealed on Wednesday that nearly 250 Syrian mercenaries were sent back to Syria from Libya via Turkey.


Most of the repatriated individuals are wounded and sick fighters operating under the banner of “Al-Sultan Murad, Soqur al-Shamal, Suleiman Shah, Al-Hamza Division, Al-Majd Corps” and other pro-Turkish factions.


In parallel, two batches of 250 mercenaries also left Syria for Libya, the majority of who registered their names with Al-Majd Corps, Al-Sultan Murad faction and Al-Hamza division, the war monitor reported.


This step came in light of escalation of disagreements between members of the Al-Sultan Murad and Soqour al-Shamal factions since early July and the ongoing demands to resume back-and-forth transfer operations.


The mercenaries threatened to stage demonstrations if the operations were to be suspended until the end of 2022.


On July 2, reliable sources told SOHR that disagreements escalated between members of the National Army in Yarmouk camp in Tripoli.


Many of these mercenaries have been in Libyan camps for more than two years and have been prevented from visiting Syria.


Sources said members of these factions complain that leaders are stealing their salaries and not providing them with the agreed upon food allowances.


Thousands of Turkish forces have been sent to Libya to fight along dozens of mercenaries from armed factions loyal to Turkey.


This comes in line with the memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation signed in November 2019 between Turkey and the Government of National Accord (GNA) then headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.


Turkey considers its military presence in Libya “legal."


Ankara says its presence in Libya is aimed at helping the country establish a unified army that brings together all the forces from the east and west under one umbrella.


Turkey’s parliament approved in June to extend the Turkish armed forces' mandate in Libya for another 18 months from July 2, at the request of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


It argues that its efforts to build democratic institutions following the February 2011 incidents were in vain due to the armed conflicts that led to the emergence of a fragmented administrative structure in the country.


The text of the decision states that Turkey will continue to uphold its strong support to protect Libya’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political unity.


It further underlined the importance of ensuring the establishment of a permanent ceasefire, supporting political dialogue to achieve national reconciliation and creating a legal framework for national elections.


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