On Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) announced that the number of Syrian mercenaries sent to Libya rose to 17,000, including 350 children under the age of 18. Among the Turkish-backed mercenaries, 6000 have returned to Syria after passing the duration of their contracts in Libya.
The SOHR also reported that Turkey has sent 2,500 Tunisian mercenaries to Libya.
Meanwhile, Turkey keeps transferring more mercenaries to Libya in preparation of an attack on the coastal city of Sirte, alongside forces of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
Ankara established a military foothold in Libya after signing a security agreement with the GNA last year. As part of the agreement, Turkish troops as well as Ankara-backed Syrian mercenaries were deployed to back the GNA in an effort to fight back against the Libyan National Army (LNA) in western Libya.
Turkey sent 400 mercenaries to Libya last week, while about 250 others returned to Syria, bringing the total number of Syrian mercenaries sent to Libya to 16,500, the director of the Syrian Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said.
A report published last Thursday by the Pentagon said Turkey has sent between 3,500 and 3,800 Syrian mercenaries to back the GNA over the first three months of the year.
The report by the US Defense Department’s inspector general did not provide details on mercenaries dispatched by Turkey after the end of March even though Ankara has intensified its intervention in Libya since then.