Turkey ‘working hand-in-hand with ISIS to recruit Syrian fanatics to fight in Libya’, expert terror monitor group claims
TURKEY is allegedly working with ISIS to recruit Syrian mercenaries to fight in Libya, a terror monitor group has claimed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that the country's intelligence services are overseeing a faction which is helping to gather mercenary fighters from the dreaded terrorist group.
The brutal and complex civil war in Libya has raged on since 2014, with Turkey agreeing last year to come to the aid of the country's UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
Mr. al-Sarraj has been fighting against warlord Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army since 2015, with Haftar receiving backing from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, France and Russia.
The director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rabi Abdel Rahman, told Sky News Arabia earlier today that Turkish intelligence were using ISIS as a means of recruiting mercenaries to join the fight in Libya.
Mr Abdel Rahman added that ISIS divisions were present close to the Turkish border in Northern Syria, and were working to recruit mercenaries under the eyes of Turkish intelligence.
According to the British-based watchdog, around 9,000 militants were sent by Turkey to Libyan territory; while the number of recruits who arrived in Turkish camps to receive training reached 3,420.
It comes after Libyan militia leaders also made the claim in February that Turkey had sent 4,000 foreign fighters into Libyan capital Tripoli, and that "dozens" of them were affiliated to extremists.
The United Nations has repeatedly condemned the flow of weapons and foreign soldiers into Libya, but has not yet responded officially to the reports that Turkey is using IS-linked extremists as mercenaries.
Turkey formally agreed to military assistance to al-Sajjar in January this year, after the country's parliament approved a bill to deploy troops into Libya to back the government in Tripoli.
Last month, Turkey initiated Operation Peace Storm – lending significant military assistance to al-Sarraj with drones, missile strikes and intelligence.
The violent Libyan civil war, which has seen thousands die and the country's infrastructure devastated, has seen no sign of abating despite government forces making significant gains in the country in the past week.
The Tripoli forces, backed by Turkey, gained the upper hand last week after retaking the capital's airport, all main entrance and exit points to the city and a string of key towns near Tripoli.
It comes despite a unilateral cease-fire proposal over the weekend by Egypt, a backer of the rival Libyan forces commanded by Khalifa Hifter.
Egypt's proposal, announced by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Saturday, envisaged a cease-fire starting Monday. Hifter accepted it, as did Aguila Saleh, speaker of the country's east-based parliament.
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