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Monday, January 17, 2022

Turkish-Backed Syrian Mercenaries Still Present in Libya

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) continues to highlight the issue of Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries deployed in Libya.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the SOHR said that Turkey is currently repatriating a group of primarily Syrian men from Libya, whilst also deploying a new group to the North African country.

The observatory noted that the repatriated groups often consist of 100 to 250 mercenaries, with similar sized groups deployed to Libya. The repatriation of those fighters from Libya is said to be based on certain health and security conditions.

Many of the mercenaries are not receiving their monthly salaries, and some have tried to escape their training camps in Tripoli. Some have tried to flee to Europe through Italy, as they are not able to return to Syria.

On January 17, the SOHR confirmed that a new group of 95 Syrian mercenaries based in Libya had returned to Syria, while a further 200 arrived in the North African country.

The SOHR added that this is the second group of Syrian fighters to be repatriated from Libya after Turkey had suspended their return since mid-November 2020.

Last week, the SOHR alleged that a group of 40 mercenaries had returned from Libya after paying an estimated $500 USD each to Libyan doctors in exchange for writing false medical reports, discharging them from service.

The number of Syrian mercenaries sent to Libya by Turkey is estimated at 18,000, including 350 minors under the age of 18. The majority of these child soldiers were recruited by the ‘Sultan Murad’ militia who exploited these children’s personal hardships to enlist them.

About 10,750 mercenaries are thought to have returned to Syria after the end of their contracts. The number of jihadists believed to have arrived among them is 10,000 fighters, of whom 2,500 were Tunisian nationals.

The death toll among these mercenaries is reportedly 496 people, all killed in action.

The SOHR’s sources have confirmed that mercenaries who had recently returned to Syria only received a quarter of their allocated monthly salaries. Each fighter was given only $500 USD every month instead of $2000 USD. Many of these fighters have not been paid any salaries for more than five months.

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