Pentagon Report Confirms Turkey Has Sent Thousands of Mercenaries to Libya
July 18, 2020 (EIRNS)—The quarterly report on counterterrorism operations in Africa prepared by the U.S. Defense Department’s inspector general reports that Turkey sent between 3,500 and 3,800 Syrian fighters to Libya over the first three months of this year. The report adds that Turkey paid and offered citizenship to the mercenaries to fight for the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli against the Libyan National Army commanded by Gen. Khalifa Haftar.
The report said they found no evidence to suggest the mercenaries were affiliated with the Islamic State extremist group or al-Qaeda, but were “ ‘very likely” motivated by generous financial packages rather than ideology or politics,” according to an Associated Press report in Egypt’s main English daily Al Ahram Online.
The report also suggests that Turkey would continue to increase the number of mercenaries being sent. The report also said that Turkey deployed an “unknown number” of Turkish soldiers in Libya.
In the previous quarterly review the Pentagon reported that Russia brought in hundreds of mercenaries to back Haftar through the so-called Wagner Group. The new report said that the Wagner Group increased its deployment of foreign fighters, also including Syrians, with estimates ranging from 800 to 2,500 mercenaries, in response to Turkey’s deployment. Russia and the Syrian government agreed to send 300 to 400 former opposition rebels from the southwest Syrian village of Quneitra to Libya in exchange for a $1,000 per month salary and clemency from President Bashar Assad, the report stated.