Two Turkish soldiers die in Libya


President Tayyip Erdogan said two Turkish soldiers were killed in Libya where they back the internationally recognised government in the north African state’s conflict, adding allied Syrians are honoured to fight there too.

Turkey is providing military support to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been trying to fend off an offensive by Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Last year a military co-operation deal was signed and Turkey sent troops and allied Syrian fighters.

Ankara stressed its soldiers are not fighting in Libya but providing co-ordination to the GNA. Erdogan said Turkey had “several martyrs” in Libya and on Tuesday clarified two died.

“We have two martyrs there,” Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara, repeating there were also fighters from the Syrian National Army working with Turkish personnel. The Syrian National Army is a Turkey-backed rebel group fighting against pro-Damascus forces in northern Syria.

“Those from the Syrian National Army have a common goal. They are there in the framework of the common goals. Our brothers with us in Syria see being there with us as an honour,” Erdogan added.

On Sunday, Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) said they killed 16 Turkish soldiers in recent weeks. Since the deployment of Turkish soldiers and sophisticated equipment to the GNA, the LNA lost some gains. The LNA is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.

At a summit in Berlin last month, world powers agreed hostilities must stop in Libya while a political process takes place. Ankara accused Haftar of violating the ceasefire, saying its guarantees regarding a UN arms embargo were dependent on a durable truce.