The British newspaper The Guardian published Wednesday a report citing Syrian sources confirming that 300 fighters from the second division of the Syrian National Army that is backed by Ankara entered Turkey via Kasab border on December 24, 2019 and then 350 others followed on December 29 to be transferred to Tripoli to fight on frontlines.
The Guardian said another 1350 men crossed into Turkey on 5 January. Some have since been deployed to Libya with others still undergoing training at camps in southern Turkey. More men from the Islamist Sham Legion are also considering travelling to Libya.
Once source said the Syrian men are expected to coalesce into a division named after Libyan resistance leader Omar al-Mukhtar.
The fighters have signed six-month contracts directly with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), rather than with the Turkish military, SNA sources said, for $2,000 (£1,500) a month – a vast sum compared with the 450-550 Turkish lira (£52-£72) a month they earn in Syria. All have been promised Turkish nationality, a carrot Ankara has used to cajole fighters in brigades on its payroll for several years.
At least four Syrians have died in Libya already, the Guardian can confirm, although their units said they died while stationed on front lines against Kurdish-led forces in north-east Syria.