Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan verified the presence of Syrian fighters in Libya as he gave a statement to reporters on the latest developments regarding the escalation in Syria on Friday.
“Turkey is present there with a training team. Besides that, there are elements of the Syrian National Army. Now they want them out. I want to raise a question. Russian Wagner mercenaries are present there, 2500 of them. Why don’t they talk about this? We have footage to prove this,” said Erdogan.
European leaders have raised their concerns previously on the issue, with French President Emmanuel Macron accusing Ankara of infringing the agreement arrived at the Berlin summit on January 19.
“We have seen during these last days Turkish warships accompanied by Syrian mercenaries arrive on Libyan soil. This is an explicit and serious infringement of what was agreed in Berlin. It’s a broken promise,” Macron said on January 30.
Ankara backs the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which has been fighting the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) since April.
Khalifa Haftar, leader of the LNA, said on Thursday that “he would be ready for a ceasefire if Turkish and Syrian mercenaries left the country and Ankara stopped supplying weapons to Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tripoli,” RIA reported.
The internationally recognized government on Tuesday suspended talks hosted by the United Nations to halt warfare over Tripoli after eastern forces shelled the capital’s port, killing three people and almost hitting a highly explosive gas tanker.
“A ceasefire (would be) the result of a number of conditions being fulfilled …the withdrawal of Syrian and Turkish mercenaries, an end to Turkish arms supplies to Tripoli, and the liquidation of terrorist groups (in Tripoli),” Haftar told Russia’s RIA news agency in an interview.