Syrians fighting in Libya on Turkey’s behalf not backed by opposition: Al-Bahra

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Syrian mercenaries fighting in Libya on behalf of Turkey are not backed by “the Syrian opposition,” the joint president of Syria’s Constitutional Committee and former head of the Syrian opposition coalition, Hadi al-Bahra, said on Friday.

“No military faction or any official body that represents the Syrian opposition is supporting or sending any fighters to participate in the conflict in Libya,” he said in an exclusive interview on Al Arabiya’s Diplomat Avenue.

“As an official body and a political body we are against the participation of any Syrian citizen in fighting outside Syria’s borders,” he said.

“It is very sad to hear such news that casts shadows over an important aspect of the tragedy in Syria,” al-Bahra said, adding that the Syrian citizens in the war-torn country “were looking for any work opportunity” to survive and support their families.

Reports have emerged recently that a number of the Syrian mercenaries fighting in Libya on behalf of Turkey have already deserted their ranks and fled to Italy, according to a report in the French daily Le Monde, which quoted French intelligence sources.

France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier this week spotted a Turkish frigate escorting a cargo ship delivering armored vehicles to the Libyan capital Tripoli in defiance of a UN embargo, a French military source said on Thursday.

The cargo ship Bana docked in Tripoli port on Wednesday, said the source, who asked not to be named, a day after President Emmanuel Macron angered Ankara by accusing his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan of failing “to keep his word” to end meddling in the north African country.

On January 19, world leaders at a meeting in Berlin committed to ending all foreign meddling in Libya and to uphold a weapons embargo as part of a broader plan to end the conflict.

Since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that killed longstanding dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has been plunged into chaos. It is now divided between the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj and rival authorities based in the country’s east.

Al-Sarraj is fighting a civil war against an alternative government based in the eastern city of Benghazi whose forces the Libyan National Army (LNA) are led by commander Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar launched an offensive to capture the Libyan capital of Tripoli in April vowing to end the rule of militias that include hardline groups linked to al-Qaeda and others. General Haftar has reportedly received support from international allies opposed to extremism and the Muslim Brotherhood.