The Guardian: 2000 Syrian Fighters Alongside the GNA Promised Turkish Citizenship – Al Marsad

In a dangerous escalation that would compromise security and stability and complicate the protracted Libyan conflict, two thousand Syrian fighters have travelled from Turkey to Libya, including those who will arrive imminently to fight on the frontlines, according to sources quoted by the UK-based Guardian newspaper. 

The government of Fayez al-Sarraj will be financially supporting the fighters who signed, according to the Guardian, direct contracts with the GNA; not with the Turkish authorities. Each fighter will receive a salary of US$2,000 a month. These fighters were promised Turkish citizenship, and Ankara will take care of the medical expenses for the wounded soldiers and manage the repatriation of the dead in Syria.

[Libya, 15 January 2020] – The Guardian, quoting sources in Syria, Libya and Turkey, said that 2000 Syrian fighters were deployed or anticipated to imminently participate in the ongoing fighting in the Tripoli battlefields.

This deployment of troops comes after Turkey’s Parliament passed a motion to send forces to back up the embattled UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Fayez al-Sarraj, to halt the advances accomplished by the Libyan National Army (LNA) troops towards Tripoli.

“Ankara has supported the Syrian opposition since the early days of the battle against the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, even as the original Free Syrian Army umbrella group grew weak and splintered because of infighting and the growth of Islamist elements within rebel ranks. Turkey now uses some rebel fighters as proxies against Kurdish-led forces despite allegations of human rights abuses from watch dogs,” the Guardian report stated.

Senior analyst of Libyan affairs at the International Crisis Group told The Guardian, “this is a very different situation to Syria. Anti-Turkish sentiment is already strong because of Ankara’s intervention and could grow as a result of this, playing in Haftar’s favour.”

“An initial deployment of 300 men from the second division of the Syrian National Army, an umbrella of Syrian rebel groups funded by Turkey, left Syria through the Hawar Kilis military border crossing on 24 December, followed by 350 more on 29 December,” the report added.

“More men from the Islamist Sham Legion are also considering travelling to Libya. The figures are significantly higher than most previous estimates,” the report continued.

The government of Fayez al-Sarraj will be financially supporting the fighters who signed, according to The Guardian, direct contracts with the GNA; not with the Turkish authorities. Each fighter will receive a salary of US $2,000 a month. These fighters were promised Turkish citizenship, and Ankara will take care of the medical expenses for the wounded soldiers and manage the repatriation of the dead in Syria.

Reportedly, the GNA was initially reluctant to accept Syrian fighters instead of Turkish troops, then bowed to the idea when the LNA forces started pushing into the neighbourhoods of the capital.

Despite the ban on dissemination posts on social media proving the participation of those fighters in the Tripoli battles, footage showing fighters speaking in Syrian accent claiming to be in Tripoli surfaced on Facebook.

Four Syrians, The Guardian reports, are said to have already died in Libya, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported at least 14 dead men. Both Ankara and Tripoli have repeatedly denied the presence of Syrian fighters in Libya. According to what the British newspaper learned, Syrians were forbidden to publish any evidence of their presence in Libya on social networks.

© Al Marsad English (2020)