Turkey has already deployed elite soldiers to Libya, Al Jazeera reported citing soures in the pro-Turkish Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). These reportedly include technicians and specialists in jamming and air defense, as well as advanced weapons.
The GNA reportedly claimed that it wouldn’t mind if Turkish soldiers fought alongside their forces.
NEW — Tripoli’s Libyan Military announces the arrival of elite Turkish soldiers to the country:
• Technicians and specialists in jamming and air defence arrived
• Received a lot of advanced weapons
• Won’t mind if Turkish soldiers fight alongside with us
— Al Jazeera
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) January 5, 2020
On January 5th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey had begun deploying troops to Libya in support of the UN-assigned GNA.
“There will be an operation centre [in Libya], there will be a Turkish lieutenant general leading and they will be managing the situation over there. [Turkish soldiers] are gradually moving there right now,” Erdogan told CNN Turk.
He said that Turkey would not be deploying its own combat forces. “Right now, we will have different units serving as a combatant force,” he said. He didn’t say who exactly these troops would be, but it is likely that it is the Turkish-back militants from Syria, of course, this comes down to speculation.
In typical manner of Turkey’s recent propaganda, the president said Ankara’s objective was “not to fight”, but “to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy”.
He said: “Our soldiers’ duty there is coordination. They will develop the operation centre there. Our soldiers are gradually going right now.”
In response to Turkey’s incoming deployment, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) commander urged Libyans to take arms against Turkey’s involvement.
“We accept the challenge and declare jihad and a call to arms,” he said in a televised address on January 3rd.
He urged “all Libyans” to bear arms, “men and women, soldiers and civilians, to defend our land and our honour.”
On January 4th, Libya’s eastern-based parliament, which actually won an election, unlike the GNA, voted unanimously against the deals the Tripoli-based government signed with Ankara.
On January 6th, the UNSC is to meet behind closed doors and discuss Libya. The meeting is being held at Russia’s request. This will be the first chance of the UNSC members to discuss security and maritime deals struck by Libya and Turkey on November 27th, and Ankara’s subsequent decision to send troops to Libya.
The US embassy in Libya called for an end to “the toxic foreign interference in Libya”, citing “the arrival of Syrian fighters supported by Turkey as well as the deployment of Russian mercenaries”.
The embassy added: “All Libyan parties have a responsibility to end this dangerous involvement of foreign forces, which is contributing to civilian casualties and damaging civilian infrastructure to the detriment of all Libyans.”
The fight for Tripoli is on-going, with neither side appearing to make significant gains.
On January 4th, at least 30 people were killed and 33 others wounded in an attack on a military academy in Tripoli, the GNA’s Health Ministry reported.
Forces allied with the GNA described Saturday’s attack on the military camp at Al-Hadhba as “an aerial bombing” launched by their eastern rivals. An LNA spokesman denied involvement.
— قناة ليبيا (@LibyasChannel) January 5, 2020
“[LNA Spokesperson] Major General Al-Mismari: The General Command categorically denies responsibility for the bombing of the Military College in Tripoli.”
The LNA, did, however target the Mitiga airport and carried out several airstrikes on it.
— Anis Abdalgawad (@AnisAbdalgawad) January 4, 2020
The Matiga airport in Tripoli was also subject to LNA bombardment.
— LibyaReview (@LibyaReview) January 4, 2020
There are reports that EU Foreign Ministers are planning a visit to Tripoli on January 7th, and the Misrata Council of Dignitaries and Wisemen rejects it. They claim that the EU plans to allow Khalifa Haftar to determine Libya’s future.
Misrata Council of Dignitaries and Wisemen strongly rejects the planned visit of EU foreign ministers to #Tripoli on January 07, saying in a statement it aims to allow Haftar to determine #Libya’s political future pic.twitter.com/COO1ISGeRM
— The Libya Observer (@Lyobserver) January 5, 2020
Egypt, on its part, continues its claims of opposition against Turkey’s involvement, but hasn’t announced any concrete actions to ramp up support of the LNA. Regardless, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry warned of repercussions if Turkey deploys troops.
الخارجية المصرية تحذر من تداعيات أي تدخل عسكري تركي في ليبيا
— سكاي نيوز عربية-عاجل (@SkyNewsArabia_B) January 5, 2020
The battle for Tripoli, however, largely remains at a standstill, with both sides continuing their claims of success.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Turkish Military Started Moving To Libya: Erdogan
- First Member Of Turkish-Backed Syrian Group Killed In Libya
- Erdogan Signs Bill To Deploy Turkish Troops In Libya