UN: Turkey Continues to Send Syrian Mercenaries to Libya

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The UN Panel of Experts on Libya submitted a report to the Security Council noting that the Turkish government has continued its practice of deploying Syrian fighters to Libya, according to Nordic Monitor.

The report, presented by the experts on 27 May 2022, pointed to “the continuous presence of Turkish-backed Syrian fighters in Government of National Unity (GNU)-affiliated military camps in Tripoli.”

It added that there had been back-and-forth transfer operations of Syrian fighters from Libya, with those with expired contracts replaced by new groups.

The UN investigators found that Alaa Al-Junaid, commander of the Hamza division of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA), visited members of his forces at the Tekbali camp in Tripoli on 19 May 2021. The visit was publicized in a YouTube video.

The UN experts considered Turkey’s deployment of Syrian fighters, as an act that “threatens the peace, stability, and security of the country.” As well as obstructing or undermining the successful completion of its political transition.

Last year, Turkish Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar stated that the Turkish soldiers and Syrian fighters in Libya would remain to preserve Ankara’s interests.

The Libyan rivals signed a ceasefire agreement in October 2020. The ceasefire agreement also demands the withdrawal of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from the country. However, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Rami Abdel-Rahman, said earlier that about 7,000 Syrian mercenaries are still present in Libya.

Recently, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said it received reports of clashes in Tripoli Friday night between armed groups. This “endangered the lives of civilians, and separately of mobilization of armed groups, along with heavy weapons, from areas surrounding Tripoli.”