A video shared by a battalion in the Libyan National Army (LNA) allegedly shows a Syrian mercenary talking about being recruited by Turkey to fight in the North African country.
Identifying himself as Ibrahim Mohammed Darwish, the 23-year-old said that he came with his weapon in a commercial flight from Turkey to Libya. Turkey has been condemned by the US and other countries for sending troops to Libya, allegedly including Syrian mercenaries, to support the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in its fight against the LNA.
Darwish says that he is a member of “Jubhat al-Nusrah” also known as al-Nusra Front – the name of a Syrian group formerly associated with al-Qaeda. The group no longer exists after it changed its name to Fatah al-Sham in 2016 to publicly distance itself from al-Qaeda.
Fatah al-Sham became part of Tahrir al-Sham when several Syrian militant factions merged into one entity in 2017. Tahrir al-Sham currently controls territory in northwestern Syria, where the Syrian regime backed by Russia is trying to take back the last opposition stronghold in the country after 9 years of war.
In the video, a man asks the mercenary how much Turkey is paying him and his fellow fighters, to which he replies by saying that they’re been promised 2,000, without specifying the currency, and adds that they haven’t been paid yet.
The Benghazi-based LNA, led by commander Khalifa Haftar, has been trying to capture the Libyan capital Tripoli from the GNA for almost a year.
The GNA is recognized by the UN but has been accused of relying on a plethora of militias, including Islamist and terrorist groups, formed in and after the 2011 uprising against longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had called for a complete ceasefire in conflicts around the world as governments and local authorities struggle with the coronavirus pandemic that has spread to most countries.
Libya confirmed its first coronavirus case on Tuesday.