Syrians with Turkish citizenship lead militant factions in Libya: Sources

Turkish soldiers patrol a road near Cukurca in the Hakkari province, southeastern Turkey. (File photo: Reuters)

Turkey is training Syrian factions to fight in Libya, sources told Al Arabiya, adding that Syrians holding Turkish citizenship are leading the militant factions in Libya.

Special Turkish forces have arrived in the Libyan capital to protect figures in the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, the sources said.

One of the leading Syrian militants inside Libya is Hamza Al-Omar, who obtained a Turkish citizenship seven months ago. He is currently in Tripoli and also heads a group consisting of 35 Syrians.

Turkey has trained four groups of Syrians, with each group consisting of 35 militants specialized in urban warfare.

Some of these militants have intensive experience as they have fought alongside the Turkish army in Syria, while others participated in military training inside Turkey.

The sources pointed to an agreement between Turkey and the GNA which guarantees that Turkey receives funding for the entire period their military forces are present inside Libya.

The GNA has also signed agreements with three Turkish civil contracting companies.

According to the sources, the GNA has signed an agreement to support its militias with armored vehicles and tanks from Turkey, despite an arms embargo.

Turkey has also sent an intelligence group consisting of 25 Turks responsible for espionage and collecting information on the Libyan National Army (LNA) forces headed by Commander Khalifa Haftar.

The military training is taking place in camps set up by the Turkish army, while Turkish military engineers are currently in Libya supervising the training of Libyan militants who support the GNA, the sources told Al Arabiya.

The North African state has been in turmoil since a 2011 uprising that overthrew and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Sarraj relies on a plethora of militias, including extremist and terrorist groups, formed in and after the 2011 uprising.

General 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.

According to the United Nations, Turkey has already supplied military equipment to forces loyal to the GNA, including tanks and drones.

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Last Update: 05:55 KSA 08:55 - GMT 05:55
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