Contrary to a recent denial by Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) over allegations that “Syrian elements” are operating in the country, footage has emerged of “Syrian fighters” identifying themselves as the “Free [Syrian] Army in Libya” from the Mu’tasim Divison. The two videos are said to be filmed near the Libyan capital, Tripoli at the Tekbali Camp, which was previously under the control of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar.
Turkey backed Free Syrian Army militants at Libya. pic.twitter.com/NYd9xfaidG
— Erkin Öncan (@ErkinOncan) December 29, 2019
— il kanguru (@il_kanguru) December 28, 2019
According to the Director of the Non-State Actors in Fragile Environments Programme at the Centre for Global Policy, Hassan Hassan, the footage is the “clearest evidence yet” of Syrian fighters being deployed in Libya on behalf of the GNA.
Syrian rebels loyal to Turkey show up in Libya. The clearest evidence yet.
I still don’t get their utility in Libya, unless they’ll serve as auxiliary, guards or cannon fodder to the Turkish forces. More trusted by the Turks?pic.twitter.com/lNgf1h7RpQ
— Hassan Hassan (@hxhassan) December 28, 2019
Yesterday, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that 300 Syrian fighters are already present in Libya, with another 1,000 currently encamped at a Turkish base. On Friday, it was reported by Bloomberg that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be dispatching Syrian “rebels” to help support the GNA.
The Turkish parliament is expected to vote on Thursday on the motion to authorise sending the army to Libya in support of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj. Earlier this month, Erdoğan expressed his country’s readiness to send troops should the Libyan government request them, in addition to establishing a military base in the country.
However, the New York Times reported today that the main opposition party in Turkey, the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP), which has previously expressed concerns, has stated that it does not support the government’s decision to deploy Turkish troops in Libya. “We don’t want this terrible picture that unfolded in Syria to unfold in yet another country,” Unal Cevikoz, the CHP’s deputy chairman, told reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu.