Turkey will send military experts and technical teams to support Libya’s internationally recognised government, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a day after President Tayyip Erdogan indicated Turkish military units were moving to Tripoli.
Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord asked for Turkish support last month to fend off an offensive by forces led by eastern leader Khalifa Haftar, backed by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
Erdogan said Turkish military units started moving to Libya to support the GNA. Asked to elaborate, Cavusoglu said Turkey would send experts, advisers and technical teams under a military co-operation agreement signed with the GNA in November.
A bill passed by Turkey’s parliament last week allows for the deployment of troops.
“How and when this will happen is to be decided by government, under the president’s leadership,” Cavusoglu said.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia condemned “recent Turkish escalation in Libya” and parliamentary approval for troop deployment, calling it a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The UN imposed an arms embargo on both sides of the Libyan conflict, which it says several countries breached.
SYRIAN REBELS IN LIBYA
Cavusoglu’s comments come after Turkish officials said Ankara was considering sending Syrian rebel fighters to Libya as part of planned military support.
Ankara has backed rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the almost nine-year civil war, and Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters spearheaded a Turkish military offensive in northern Syria in October.
A spokesman for the FSA denied Ankara requested it send fighters to Libya but a military source in the FSA said some fighters signed up on an individual basis to work as “bodyguards” for a Turkish security company in Libya.
The US Embassy in Libya said violence “underscores the dangers of toxic foreign interference in Libya, such as the arrival of Syrian fighters supported by Turkey as well as deployment of Russian mercenaries.”
Cavusoglu denied any FSA fighters were deployed to Libya and said Turkey was against deployment of mercenaries in Libya, referring to Russian and Sudanese fighters.
In recent years the country has had two governments, the GNA based in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east. Haftar, the most powerful figure in the east, launched a campaign to unite the country by capturing Tripoli.