ISTANBUL (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkish military units had started moving to Libya to support Fayez al-Serraj’s internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli.
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), there will be a Turkish lieutenant general leading and they will be managing the situation over there. (Turkish soldiers) are gradually moving there right now,” Erdogan 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, Erdogan said.
“There will be different units over there as combatant forces, they will not be from our military. Our top-level military personnel will be coordinating the situation over there,” he added, without elaborating.
(Additional reporting by Ahmed Elumami in TripOli; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Gareth Jones)