Turkey to send Syrian rebel fighters to
battle Haftar in Libya
Sultan Murad Division, Suqour al-Sham
Brigades and Faylaq al-Sham among the armed
groups to be deployed in North
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara
December 27, 2019 "Information
- Turkey will deploy Syrian
rebel fighters in Libya to fight against the
forces of Khalifa Haftar, sources told
Middle East Eye on Friday.
Ankara had already reached out to several
allied Syrian rebel groups about the
deployment, a senior Syrian opposition
source told MEE.
Turkish source said that the Sultan Murad
Division, an armed group made up of Syrian
Turkmen fighters, is among the groups set to
be sent to North Africa.
Syrian opposition source said that the
Suqour al-Sham Brigades, a faction founded
to fight Syrian government forces early in
Syria’s war, had already accepted the plan
and transferred some of its forces to Turkey
ahead of deployment.
Faylaq al-Sham, a rebel group with close
ties to Ankara, is expected to take the lead
due to its members’ previous partnership
with Libyan forces.
“Tripoli-based forces previously sent
weapons and ammunition to help Syrian rebels
in 2011. They even sent some commanders to
help them,” the Syrian source said.
“Faylaq al-Sham returned the favour by
sending officials to advise Tripoli-based
forces in 2014 against Benghazi forces.”
opposition Syrian Interim Government denied
it would be sending any troops to Libya.
categorically deny sending any of our forces
and military formations to Libya, and our
priority in the Syrian National Army is to
protect our Syrian people from the regime's
militias and its Russian and Iranian
supporters," it said in a statement.
Both Libya and Syria have been embroiled in
conflicts since 2011, after "uprisings"
against Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar
al-Assad broke out.
Libya, Nato-backed fighters toppled Gaddafi,
though unrest has continued since, with
eastern commander Haftar’s self-styled
Libyan National Army (LNA) forces facing off
against the Tripoli-based Government of
National Accord (GNA) in recent years.
Syria, meanwhile, Assad has, with Russian
and Iranian support, rolled back rebel
control into a pocket of the country’s
Turkish-backed groups hold stretches of
Aleppo province, and have in recent months
been fighting Kurdish forces in the
northeast at Ankara’s behest, rather than
Pro-Syrian government forces have been
staging a ferocious offensive against
northwestern Idlib province, the
opposition's last redoubt, in recent days.
United Nations said on Friday that 235,000
civilians in Idlib had fled their homes to
escape shelling by Assad's forces over the
past two weeks.
the groups that could be sent to Libya on
behalf of Turkey have controversial
reputations, and have been accused of war
crimes against Kurdish civilians. Amnesty
International has accused some
Turkey-backed groups of summary executions
The UN said it
believed a faction of the rebel Syrian
National Army was responsible for
the killing of Hervin Khalaf,
a Kurdish politician who was reportedly
dragged from her car and shot alongside
deployment of Turkish forces in Libya, where
Ankara’s ally the GNA is fending off an LNA
assault on Tripoli, had been expected.
Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan said legislation to send troops to
Libya was being prepared after a formal
request for assistance had been made by the
Turkish parliament is expected to vote on
the deployment on 8 or 9 January, and its
passage should be a formality.
Erdogan travelled to Tunisia on Wednesday
for consultations, meeting his Tunisian
counterpart Kais Saied. Erdogan said Tunisia
had agreed to help support the GNA, however
the Tunisians have denied such a stance has
GNA interior minister on Thursday warned
Libya's North African neighbours of the
repercussions were Haftar, who is backed by
the UAE and Egypt, to take Tripoli.
Tripoli falls, Tunis and Algiers will fall
in turn. This is an attempt to sow chaos in
the region and exercise control over North
Africa," he said.
UN report finalised in November said both
sides in Libya had been received weapons,
equipment and foreign fighters in
contravention of an international arms
"Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates
routinely and sometimes blatantly supplied
weapons, employing little effort to disguise
the source," said the report.
report confirmed that 1,000 fighters had
been sent to support Haftar by Sudan's
notorious Rapid Support Forces militia, who
had already been fighting under the
Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
also identified the presence of other groups
from Chad and Sudan's Darfur region, which
both border Libya to the south.
The UN experts
who wrote the report said they were
continuing to investigate the role of
Canada-based firm Dickens and Madson in the
deployment of RSF troops, which was
hinted at in a lobbying contract signed with
the paramilitary's head
Mohammed Hamdan Dagolo in May 2019.
Ari Ben Menasche has represented Haftar and
several other Libyan clients,
apparently on both sides of the conflict,
since the fall of Gaddafi.
Erdogan has justified Turkey's planned troop
deployment saying Haftar's forces were
backed by the Wagner Group, a Russian
"They are helping a warlord. We are
responding to an invitation from the
legitimate government of Libya," Erdogan
said. "That is our difference."
Group is a
shadowy Kremlin-backed private military
contractor that has also been involved in
the Syrian civil war, where Moscow backs
Assad against rebel forces.
contractor is also believed to be active in
Sudan and the Central African Republic,
where it reportedly serves as President
Faustin-Archange Touadera's personal
This article was originally published by "MEE"
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