Syrian Fighter in Tripoli: “The fighting here is worse than anything I experienced in Syria”

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Talking to The Guardian in an article published on Tuesday, a 22-year-old Syrian fighter in Tripoli expressed his deep dismay at the situation in Libya, where he has been fighting on behalf of Turkey for the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) since March 2020.

“They told me I would be in the support line or medical units working for good money, but the fighting here is worse than anything I experienced in Syria. It’s all close combat in narrow streets,” the young Syrian told a reporter from The Guardian.

“Some Syrians are here for money, some say they support the Libyans against tyranny. But personally I don’t really know why Turkey asked the Syrian opposition to fight in Libya. I didn’t know anything about this country except the revolution against [Col Muammar] Gaddafi.”

Since late 2019, Turkey has escalated its military intervention in Libya to support the GNA against the Libyan National Army (LNA), which is led by Khalifa Haftar and supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the number of Syrian fighters currently in Libya is believed to be around 10,000, with a further 3,400 still undergoing training in Turkey. Ankara is believed to have recently sent 500 additional fighters to Tripoli.

The Observatory claims that among the total number of foreign fighters there are about 200 child soldiers between the ages of 16 and 18.

Turkey’s actions in Libya are part of an ambitious plan called “Mavi Vatan” (“Blue Homeland”) that seeks to establish Ankara’s geopolitical control over the resource-rich eastern Mediterranean.

Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, and a number of other states in the Mediterranean have condemned Turkey’s power grab in the region.