Turkey’s recruitment of Syrian mercenaries to fight in Libya: Process & legal consequences

Turkey recruited Syrians including children & sent them to Libya to fight alongside Al-Sarraj’s GNA forces against Haftar’s LNA

Turkey in Libya sounds like a bet in the making. The current military support Turkey provides to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) and its prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj is not fortuitous. Not only is Libya a former province of the Ottoman Empire, it also represents a significant investment, both politically and economically.[1]

The two states have had a tumultuous relationship over the past decades, involving significant investments, particularly fruitful given Libya’s rich oil and gas reserves and the need for construction in the country that could amount to 16 billion dollars.[2] The relationship has had its fair share of awkward moments, such as the inflamed sermon given by General Gaddafi to Prime Minister Erbakan, accusing him of complacency with the West and advocating for the rights of the Kurds, but eventually proved essential to both countries, who never loosened their tights and signed a Maritime deal in November, thus triggering old disputes among Mediterranean powers.[3]

Today, Turkey’s presence in Libya is also the opportunity for Turkey to hamper the prominence of its rivals in the region, namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the Libyan civil war has become the theatre of a conflict involving a number of actors. While Turkey supports the government recognized by the UN and led by the Government of National Accord (GNA) and its prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj, isolated on the international scene, the UAE, along with Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia is allied to General Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).[4]

First allegations of the presence of Syrian fighters in Libya

In this extensive report, Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) presents evidence, supported by witnesses’ direct statements, of Turkey’s recruitment of Syrians to fight in Libya alongside the Government of National Accord, under the leadership of Fayez al-Sarraj, and against the Libyan National Army, headed by the Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

It’s important to mention that this report is part of STJ’s wider efforts to verify Turkey and Russia’s enlistment of Syrians as mercenaries in Libya in order to fight alongside parties to the conflict there. A further extended report on the enlistment of Syrians to fight alongside Khalifa Haftar’s forces is to be published soon by the organization. It’s also worth mentioning that this topic has been already addressed by several Syrian media outlets, including Sawt Al-Asema’s website,[5] Enab Baladi newspaper,[6] and Suwayda 24 website.[7]

See Also:

Erdogan removes Navy chief of staff from active duty: He was the architect of Turkey’s Libya deal

Syrian news networks started publishing reports, denied by the Syrian opposition, of Syrian fighters sent as mercenaries to Libya in December 2019. Thus, on 25 December 2019, the Ministry of Defense of the Syrian National Army issued a statement in which it categorically denied sending any forces or military formations to Libya, stating: “Our priority in the National Army is to protect our Syrian people.” [8]

National Army’s spokesman, Yousif Hammoud, refuted these allegations again in a statement he gave exclusively to Enab Baladi website on 25 December 2019.[9]

On 27 December 2019, a group of Syrians, whose members identified as revolutionaries, politicians and academics, issued a statement, deploring that Syrian fighters agree to be deployed outside Syria, when they are supposed to hold their arms in Idlib against Russian, Iranian and Syrian forces.[10]

Read more: stj-sy.org