More than 11,000 Turkish-backed Syrian militants are still present in Libya despite the recent political settlement in the country, according to leaked official documents released by the Sky News Arabia on April 17.
According to the documents, a total of 11,609 Syrian militants are now in Libya. The number is double that provided by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
So far, Turkey has withdrawn only 1,226 out of 12,835 militants of the so-called Syrian National Army from Libya. Most militants were sent to Libya between 2019 and 2020 to back the now-defunct Government of National Accord against the Libyan National Army.
Syrian militants in Libya were deployed as a follows:
- The Suleiman Shah Brigade, sent 1,910 militants to Libya. On February 26, 2021, 126 of them and on February 11, 2021, 90 of them crossed the Kilis border gate to Turkey, and from there they were sent to Libya.
- The Hamzat Division sent 1,810 militants to Libya. 40 militants from the Hamza Division came to Turkey through the Kilis border gate on July 25, 2020, and were sent to Libya after 12 days of training in Turkey. A group of 75 people was sent to Turkey on February 23, 2021, and a group of 35 people was sent to Turkey on March 14, 2021 through the Kilis border gate, and from there to Libya.
- The al-Mu’tasim Billah Brigade sent 150 militants to Turkey on June 22, 2020. After a week of training in Kirkkhan camp, they were transferred to Libya. In addition, some of them returned after an airstrike on al-Watiya Air Base. Another group crossed into Turkey from the Kilis border gate on July 9, 2020, and from there to Libya.
- The Falcons of the North Brigade sent 430 militants to Libya. 45 of them arrived in Turkey on July 17, 2020, and were sent to Libya 10 days after undergoing training at the Kirkkhan camp.
- The 9th Division sent 150 militants to Libya. 50 of them were transported to Turkey on December 17, 2020, via the Kilis border gate. After 10-13 days of training at the Kirkkhan camp, they were transferred to Libya.
- The Majid Corps sent 978 militants to Libya. 40 of them crossed into Turkey through the Kilis border gate on July 20, 2020, and were sent to Libya after a week training. On July 16, 2020, a group of 65 of them crossed to Turkey through the Kilis gate on the border, and were sent, like other groups, to Libya after receiving training in the Kirkuk camp.
- The al-Mu’tasim Division, sent 1170 militants to Libya.
- The Corps of Rahman sent 790 militants to Libya.
- Ahrar al-Sharqi sent 600 militants to Libya.
- The Army of Islam sent 585 militant to Libya.
- The al-Waqqas Brigade sent 400 militants to Libya.
- The Samarkand Brigade sent 350 militants to Libya.
- The Sham Corps sent 365 militants to Libya.
The documents also confirmed that al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, designated as a terrorist group by the UN, had sent 80 of its fighters to Libya.
The ceasefire agreement in Libya reached in October of 2020 calls for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters from Libya. On April 16, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for the full implementation of the ceasefire. In spite of this, Turkey is yet to adhere to the agreement and withdraw Syrian militants.
Recently, a number of reports revealed that Ankara had discussed the issue of Syrian militants in Libya with the US and later with Egypt. However, no withdrawal has been reported yet.
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