LONDON – Turkey is sending more Syrian mercenaries to Libya despite the human losses incurred in their fight alongside the Government of National Accord forces against Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Sunday that new batches of Syrian militants arrived in Libya after receiving training in the Turkish camps.
Al-Arabiya news TV channel, quoting a source from Libya’s Misrata Airport, said that an African Airways plane arriving from Turkey landed at the airport with 122 Syrian mercenaries on board.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to send Syrian mercenaries to the war-torn country to support Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s government and the armed militias loyal to him despite international warnings against foreign interference.
There has been a major influx of Turkish mercenaries, weapons and equipment over the past weeks, and Turkish officers are now running the operations.
The Turkish reinforcements come after the death toll among Erdogan's mercenaries has risen to 298, including 11 fighters in the latest clashes.
The Observatory said that the killed mercenaries belonged to the “Al-Mu'tasim Brigade, the Sultan Murad Brigade, the Northern Falcons Brigade, Al-Hamzat and Suleiman Shah,” during clashes with LNA forces in Salaheddin neighbourhood south of Tripoli, Ramla near Tripoli airport and Hadaba area, in addition to the Misrata battles and other regions in Libya.
The number of Syrian fighters in Libya has so far reached 9,000 while Turkey initially planned to send no more than 6,000 fighters, due to the impact of the losses incurred by Ankara’s allies against LNA fighters.
The LNA forces have been pressing on with the liberation of the capital and rid it from extremists.
The reinforcements that Erdogan is sending to Libya reflect the extent of the retreat of Turkish forces, their hired mercenaries, and the Libyan armed militias loyal to the Serraj’s government against the progress of the LNA forces.
The process of sending scores of Syrian fighters to Libya is being run under great Turkish pressure on the leaders of the Syrian factions to force them to fight in the North African country despite their refusal after initially taking part in the Tripoli battles.
Among Erdogan's mercenaries, there are about 150 teenagers aged between 16 and 18, the majority of whom belong to the Sultan Murad Brigade, the most violent and loyalist faction of Turkey, according to the Syrian Observatory.
Turkey failed to fulfill its promises as it did not pay the salaries of the Syrian mercenaries, most of them no longer wanted to go to Libya, especially after the news they had received about the suffering of their comrades there.
The refusal of the Syrian factions to go to Libya to fight under the command of the Turkish officers prompted Turkish authorities to use the pressure card, as Turkish intelligence threatens the leaders of the Syrian factions to open files related to scandals and crimes they committed if the request to send fighters to Libya were not answered.
Syrian fighters recently refused to participate in the Tripoli battles after they were racing to go there, due to Turkey's failure to pay high salaries promised at the beginning. The monthly salary of each fighter does not exceed now at $400, a fifth of the salary that was initially paid by Ankara.
The Syrian Observatory learned that there was great resentment among Syrian mercenaries in Libya, due to Turkey's failure to fulfill its promises, indicating the extent of their suffering within the Tripoli camps.
One of the fighters talked about everyone's remorse for coming to Libya, calling on his Syrian comrades who wish to fight in Syria to back down from their decision due to the poor conditions and Turkish authorities 'failure to pay the fighters' dues of $2000 per month.