Turkey has kept around 8,000 Syrian militants in Libya despite the ceasefire and the recent progress in peace talks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on December 16.
“Despite the Libyan-led agreement and ceasefire, there are many questions about the reasons behind maintaining such a large number of mercenaries in Libya until now,” the London-based monitoring group reported.
Between late 2019 and early 2020, Turkey deployed more than 18,000 militants in Libya to back its ally, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
Syrian militants helped GNA forces to repel an offensive by the Libyan National Army (LNA) on Tripoli. This came at a high cost for the militants, who lost at least 469 of their comrades.
According to the SOHR, Turkey halted the withdrawal of Syrian militants from Libya about a month ago. Around 10,000 of them had already returned to Syria.
Ankara may be preparing for a new military escalation in Libya. In the recent days, there were many speculations by GNA supporters of a Turkish plan to deploy fighter jets, namely F-16s, in the country.
New satellite images confirmed that Turkey is preparing al-Watiya Air Base in western Libya for the deployment of such advanced fighter jets.
The Turkish preparations come at a time when the intra-Libya peace talks are witnessing some progress. The ceasefire in the country is holding very well. Furthermore, there are no indications of a new LNA attack on the Tripoli-based GNA. These factors indicate that Turkish-backed forces are the side planning an attack.
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