The Economic Times: Turkey continues to rotate Syrian mercenaries in Libya

The Turkish authorities are deploying Syrian fighters in Libya, and changing those whose contracts have expired by sending new fighters and providing weapons to several factions, in violation of the arms embargo to Libya.

The report, which was prepared by the UN Panel of Experts on Libya and submitted to the Security Council on May 27, referred to the “continued presence of Turkish-backed Syrian fighters in camps belonging to the unity government” led by Abdel Hamid Dabaiba in Tripoli.

Interestingly, India, which chairs the sanctions committee on Libya in the UN Security Council, was going through a cold period in political relations with Turkey, an important ally of Pakistan, as Turkey focused on condemning India over the Kashmir issue.

While a Comoros-flagged ship operated by Turkey’s Medred Ship Management Co Ltd. allegedly provided weapons to eastern Libya’s military in violation of an arms embargo, a Turkish Defense Ministry spokesperson said last November that it may begin providing naval assistance to internationally recognized authorities: the Libyan Government of National Unity, in line with references linked to Turkey in the report.

This spokesperson claimed that 6,799 Libyan soldiers were trained by Turkey until November 30, 2021, in violation of Paragraph 9 of Resolution 1970 (2011). In addition, the Panel of Experts   monitored 33 sea freight trips from Turkey to western Libya between May 2021 until March 2022, the Economic Times has learned.

The report added that there were replacement and back-and-forth operations of Syrian fighters to and from Libya, with groups coming out to be replaced by completely by new ones.

Reportedly, Syrian fighters recruited by Turkey received between $800 and $2,000 for every thirty days.

UN investigators reported that Alaa al-Junaid, commander of the Hamza Division in the Turkish-backed opposition Syrian National Army; had visited elements of his forces in Al-Tekbali camp in Tripoli on May 19, 2021.

The report also included the statements of Colonel Fadlallah Hajji, who stated in an interview on July 18, 2021 that sending Syrian fighters to Libya was “part of a strategic plan for cooperation between the national army and the Turkish army.”

The United Nations considered Turkey’s deployment of Syrian fighters in Libya an act that threatens peace, stability and security in Libya or impedes or undermines the completion of the political transition.

The United Nations stressed that Syrian fighters, as well as other fighters from other countries and companies, pose a “grave threat to the security of Libya and the region.”

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