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Turkey deploys troops to Libya

January 5, 2020

Ankara has announced the deployment of troops to Libya. Turkish forces will support the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli, which is under siege by the army of General Khalifa Haftar.

Turkish military vehicles
Image: Getty Images/AFP/D. Souleiman

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that Turkish soldiers had begun deploying to Libya after receiving approval from parliament last week

"Our soldiers' duty there is coordination. They will develop the operation center there. Our soldiers are gradually going right now," he told CNN Turk broadcaster on Sunday.

The soldiers will act in support of Fayez al-Serraj's internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli. 

Read moreEU divisions over Libya leave a gap for others

Erdogan said Turkey was not sending its own combat forces, but that "different teams" would take on coordination tasks. Senior Turkish military personnel will coordinate the "fighting force" in Libya and provide training on the ground, he added.

Objective to 'avoid a humanitarian tragedy'

Tripoli's GNA, backed by the United Nations, Turkey and Qatar, has been under constant siege by military strongman General Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive in April. Haftar has the backing of Turkey's regional rivals, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as a rival government based in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk, which on Saturday rejected the agreement that would allow Ankara to send in its troops.

Turkey's parliament approved a bill on Thursday to clear the way for sending military units to Libya after the GNA requested support last month. 

Erdogan's announcement of Turkey's deployment came after at least 30 people were killed in an attack on a military academy in Tripoli on Saturday. The president told CNN that Ankara's objective was "not to fight," but "to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy."

More than 280 civilians and over 2,000 fighters have been killed since the start of Haftar's assault, according to the UN.

Read moreWhat is Turkey doing in Libya?

Libya's two governments began vying for control after the 2011 fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi plunged the country into chaos.

On Monday, the UN Security Council will meet behind closed doors to discuss the situation in Libya. Erdogan also said he would speak to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday about the situation in Iran and Iraq after the US killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

nm, aw/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa)

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