After months spent by Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries on the Libyan battlefronts, press reports have found a state of discontent among them. The militants said that Ankara had broken its promise to them, and confessed to committing crimes of looting the homes that Libyans deserted because of the war.
According to the most recent statistics of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Turkey has sent more than 18,000 Syrian mercenaries to Libya, of whom approximately 7,000 were returned to Syria. In addition, there has also been around 10,000 fighters from other nationalities in Libya.
Thousands of mercenaries have joined the extremist militias of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which is currently planning to co-police the strategic city of Sirte, according to the conclusions of a ceasefire agreement in Libya disclosed on Friday.
“We have freedom of movement in Misrata. We can go out on our own. We discovered a lot of abandoned houses containing gold,” said Taha Hammoud, a member of the Majd Corps in the Syrian National Army, a faction whose members have been transported by Turkey a number of times to Libya.
Hammoud admitted in his interview to the London-based Investigative Journal, that he and his fellow gunmen looted the homes of Libyans in Misrata, adding: “Here they did not pay us what they promised, so it is an excellent way to collect more money.”
According to the newspaper, the Syrian mercenaries were promised to receive a monthly salary of nearly $2,000 for the fight in Libya, but a massive number of them said that they were paid much less, while some explained that they stayed in Libya for more than 5 months but received only one payment.
The source revealed that the meeting that took place a few days ago in Libya between the Qatari Defence Minister Khaled Al-Attiyah and the Turkish Minister of Defence Hulusi Akar with the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, led to the increase by 30% of salaries disbursed to Syrian mercenaries.
However, Omar, a member of the Hamza Division stationed in the Ain Zara region near Tripoli believes that this increase is “just talk.”
“Our leaders are informing us that we will get salaries soon, but this is not happening. They may have said they would pay more because they thought they would need us to attack Sirte, but why do they need us now?”Omar added, in reference to the ceasefire agreement reached recently.
Omar said he got more information from his friends in Syria than anyone else in Libya: “They don’t tell us anything here. We hear news from Syria, and we hear rumours too. We don’t know anything for sure until that happens.”
Despite the agreement to halt the fighting, Turkey is continuing to train militants, and probably still sends them to Libya, according to the SOHR.
Also, the spokesman for the Libyan National Army, Ahmed Al-Mismari, revealed, in a press conference, on Sunday, that the army had monitored Turkish military ships advancing towards Sirte during the previous hours, which reflects Ankara’s lack of seriousness in dealing with the ceasefire agreement.