Erdoğan says Turkish military units have started deploying to Libya: report

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Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (L) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said that Turkish military units had started moving to Libya to support Fayez al-Serraj’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, according to Reuters.

Turkey’s parliament approved a bill on Thursday that allows for the deployment of troops in Libya to protect Ankara’s interests in North Africa and the Mediterranean and to help achieve peace and stability in Libya.

“There will be an operation center [in Libya], to which a Turkish lieutenant general will be [assigned]. They will be leading the operations there. [Turkish soldiers] are gradually moving there right now,” Erdoğan said in an interview with CNN Turk.

The GNA last month requested Turkish support as it fends off an offensive by General Khalifa Haftar’s forces, which are backed by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

On Saturday, at least 30 people were killed and 33 others wounded in an attack on a military academy in the Libyan capital. Turkey condemned the attack and called for international steps to achieve a ceasefire.

GNA officials and forces allied with the government declined to comment on the arrival of the Turkish troops.

Senior Turkish military personnel will coordinate with the combatant forces in Libya as well as provide training and expertise on the ground, Erdoğan said.

“The combatant forces [in Libyan soil] won’t be from our soldiers. But our top-level military members will coordinate them,” he added, without elaborating.

Some observers last week claimed that Turkey-backed Syrian armed rebels were deployed to Tripoli for fighting against Haftar forces.

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