Syrian Mercenary Who Fought in Libya Talks about Turkey’s Recruitment Process

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On Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) conducted an interview with a Syrian mercenary who was sent to take part in the Libyan-Libyan conflict. These fighters were deployed as part of Turkey’s effort to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), against the Libyan National Army (LNA).

The mercenary stated that the salaries offered to him by Turkey, to participate in the Libyan conflict were attractive, especially in light of the disastrous living situation in Syria.

The Turkish government has recruited many young Syrian men and trained them to become mercenaries to serve its interests in Libya, along with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

Turkey has lured Syrian fighters with attractive salaries, exploiting their harsh living conditions.

The majority of those Syrians, who have been trained to become mercenaries, are from pro-Ankara factions, headed by the Syrian National Army factions. They also include civilians who were recruited by Turkey to join their fellows in the North African country.

Turkey has been condemned by the United States (US) and other countries for sending troops to Libya, allegedly including Syrian mercenaries, to support the GNA in its fight against the LNA.

The 35-year-old Syrian man, who came from Sahl al-Ghab area in the western countryside of Hama, told the SOHR about his recruitment story by the Syrian army and the Turkish intelligence agency.

He said, “I am a married man and have a family of five members.” He further continued by saying that “I was previously working in a bakery, then I moved to join the National Army for a salary not exceeding 150 Turkish liras (20 US dollars), but the deteriorating conditions there had prompted me to go to fight in Libya.”

He stated that, “one of the Syrian army officers invited me to join other mercenaries leaving for Libya for 2,000 US dollars monthly salary. Then I went to one of the army’s headquarters and registered my personal data.”

“I was transferred, along with 100 others, to the Afrin area the Turkish city of Gaziantep, where we underwent a short military course for about two weeks.”

“Then we set off from Gaziantep to Istanbul via a Turkish passenger plane, and we were transferred via a Turkish plane to the Libyan city of Misrata, where we stayed for about a week without leaving our military barracks without knowing the reason, but after that, we were transferred to the fronts, alongside the GNA forces.”

“I had participated in many battles against the LNA forces for about four months. The majority of the Syrian fighters were placed on the first contact lines and hot spots in the clashes. I had seen a lot of Syrian young men who were injured and killed during such clashes.”

The mercenary added that the number of Syrian victims was approximately 1,000. He claimed that they are currently in training camps in Libya, with the majority of fighters being new recruits.

In October 2020 the GNA and LNA signed a ceasefire agreement in Geneva, which included a provision for the “departure of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libya by land, sea, and air within three months from the date of the signing of the ceasefire,” yet this measure has yet to be implemented.