A new report by the Pentagon’s Inspector General has revealed new details on the number and behavior Syrian militants deployed by Turkey in Libya.
The report, which was released on September 2, reveals that Turkey deployed more than 5,000 Syrian militants in Libya to support the Government of National Accord. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) believes that the militants were transported to Libya on Turkish military planes.
The Pentagon’s numbers are lower that what was provided by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The monitoring group reported the deployment of around 15,000 militants in Libya. Thousands reportedly returned to Syria after fulfilling their contracts.
The AFRICOM described Turkish-backed Syrian militants in Libya as “inexperienced, uneducated, and motivated by promises of considerable salary.” The command also noted increasing reports of theft, sexual assault, and misconduct by those militants.
“Turkey has also deployed several hundred regular military forces to Libya. These individuals included trainers, advisors, ordnance disposal personnel—a large number of IEDs have been found in southern Tripoli—and operators and maintainers of Turkish air defense systems,” CNN journalist, Ryan Browne, quoted the report as saying.
The Pentagon also accused Russia of supporting 3,000 private military contractors from the Wagner Group and around 2,000 Syrian fighters in Libya between April 1 and June 30.
The presence of Turkish-backed Syrian militants and PMCs in Libya is well-documented. However, there is no evidence of Russian-backed Syrian fighters in the country.
Despite the unverified accusations against Russia, the Pentagon’s report provides an interesting insight on Turkish military buildup and Syrian militants actions in Libya. Ankara is reportedly preparing for a permanent military presence in the country.