Late on December 28, activists released a video allegedly showing Syrian mercenaries fighting for the Government of National Accord (GNA) near the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
In the video, the alleged mercenaries can be heard mocking Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in a fluent Syrian accent unique to Aleppo. The mercenaries also say that they are fighters of the al-Mu’tasim Division.
The group, which is based in northern Aleppo, is a part of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA). Earlier this year, the group took part in the Turkish-led attack on Kurdish forces in northeast Syria.
Many Syrian observers questioned the authenticity of the video. However, Twitter user il kanguru put an end to any doubts when he proved that the video was shot in the al-Naqliyah camp, which is located south of Tripoli. A day earlier, the camp witnessed heavy clashes between forces supporting the GNA and the LNA.
— il kanguru (@il_kanguru) December 28, 2019
After verifying the first video, activists released a second one supposedly showing more Syrian mercenaries vowing to “defend Islam” near Tripoli. This video is yet to be verified.
A Turkish official told Bloomberg a day earlier that Turkey is planning to deploy its Syrian proxies in Libya to support the GNA. The SNA responded to the report by releasing a statement, denying sending any fighters to Libya. That was a lie apparently.
The deployment of Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries in Libya led to a backlash on social media and Arab press from Syrians, opposition and government supporters, as well as from many Libyans.
Turkey’s decision to deploy its Syrian proxies will likely improve the GNA’s military odds against the LNA. However, there is no doubt that this step has harmed the public image of the GNA, Ankara and Syrian rebels.