More than 2,000 Turkey-backed Syrian fighters are now in Libya, and further recruits are in training, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Turkey, a supporter of the Libya’s internationally recognised government, wants to send around 6,000 Syrians to Libya, the organisation said in a statement on Sunday, citing information from activists.
“Nearly 2,400 fighters have been already shipped to Tripoli, while nearly 1,700 other recruits arrived in Turkey to undergo training courses,” the group said, without specifying when the fighters arrived.
Many of the recruits are from the region of Afrin in north-western Syria, it said.
Libya has been in turmoil ever since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s internationally recognised government is fighting for power against an administration led by Khalifa Haftar in the country’s east. The warlord Haftar is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.
In early January, Turkey’s parliament authorised a one-year deployment of its own armed forces to Libya to support the Tripoli government. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish forces had started deploying a few days later.
According to the online magazine Al Monitor, Turkey has so far dispatched 80 military personnel to help with coordination tasks and training soldiers in Tripoli.
On Sunday, at a peace conference in Berlin, the international community agreed to a peace process for the war-torn country which included agreeing to end military support for the country’s warring factions.