By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Tripoli: More evidence of Turkey’s growing regional adventurism, which accords with Erdogan’s increasingly obvious desire to restore the Ottoman caliphate, and its embrace of jihadis and jihad activity.
“Turkey Deployed 27,000 Syrian Militants, Jihadists In Libya: Monitoring Group,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, August 1, 2020.
Turkey has been deploying Syrian militants and jihadists of different nationalities in Libya to support the Government of National Accord (GNA), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) revealed in a report on August 1.
According to the London-based monitoring group, a new batch of Syrian militants and jihadist arrived in Libya in the last few days.
The SOHR estimates that Turkey has deployed more than 17,000 Syrian militants, including 350 children, in Libya so far. At least 6,000 of them returned to Syria in the recent few months after receiving the full payment.
“Turkey continues to bring more factions’ fighters, mercenaries, to its camps and train them,” the SOHR’s report reads.
Besides deploying its Syrian proxies, Turkey also transported around 10,000 Jihadists of different nationalities to fight for the GNA in Libya. At least 2,500 of them are Tunisian.
Turkey began sending Syrian militants and jihadists to Libya last year. This step boosted the offensive capabilities of the GNA and allowed its forces to repel the Libyan National Army attack on the capital, Tripoli.
These come at time when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) remains a “persistent threat” in Libya and could rise again unless the country’s long-running conflict is brought to an end, a new study has warned.
The study, conducted by the Strategic Studies Institute at the United States Army War College, says ISIL is “regrouping, quietly expanding capacity until [it] might once again be strong enough to be a challenger in Libya”.
It said the armed group retained its capacity to launch “small-scale” attacks in Libya, which was a deviation from its earlier strategy of high-profile “shock and awe” raids.
“They engage in small-scale attacks and skirmishes necessary to establish themselves in the criminal smuggling network that link sub-Saharan Africa to the Libyan coast in the north,” according to the study conducted by Azeem Ibrahim.
The country has since split between the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west and renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east.
Each faction is backed by militias and foreign governments. While the GNA is supported by Turkey, the LNA is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.
In April last year, Haftar launched an offensive to seize the Libyan capital, Tripoli, from the GNA. But the 14-month campaign collapsed in June this year when the GNA gained the upper hand, driving his forces from the outskirts of Tripoli and other western towns.
After a months-long campaign by GNA forces, ISIL was expelled in May 2016 from the coastal city of Sirte, the biggest territory controlled by the armed group outside its then heartland in Syria and Iraq.
According to the study, after ISIL’s removal from Sirte, most of its activity moved to Fezzan in the southern Libyan desert, “where the group has increasingly embedded themselves in the local human and illicit goods trafficking, particularly along the refugee migration routes through Libya”.