Published On: Mon, Jan 20th, 2020

Turkey has not yet sent troops to Libya, only ‘advisers’ – Erdogan

Ankara has not yet deployed its military forces to Libya, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, adding that a group of advisers and trainers arrived in the war-torn country to aid the UN-backed Government of National Accord.

Last week, ahead of the Berlin summit, Erdogan said that his country would send troops to ensure the stability of the UN-backed government in addition to the training team, but now that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Turkey did not send any troops to Libya, Erdogan told journalists aboard the presidential plane on his way back from the Berlin peace conference. He further explained that a team of Turkish military specialists came to the war-ravaged country plagued by the years-long civil war only to work as advisers and train forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

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The president did not clarify the apparent contradiction and said that Turkey’s actions on the ground helped establish a balance of power in the civil war and created the grounds for a ceasefire between the GNA and the forces of General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army.

“Turkey’s presence in Libya increased hopes for peace,” he said.

He also lauded the results of the Berlin conference by saying that the participants managed to agree on a roadmap for peace. The president noted that the most important thing now is to maintain the ceasefire agreed between the two major Libyan warring parties upon the initiative of Moscow and Ankara.

“If the ceasefire that we called for together with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is held, political process will be opened,” Erdogan told journalists.

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Still, the president made it clear that he does not see Turkey’s role as that of a mediator in Libya. Instead, Ankara would lend its support to the UN-backed government against Haftar, whom Erdogan described as an “illegitimate leader.”

The Turkish president also warned that Ankara would not hesitate to “do what is necessary” should Haftar’s forces violate the truce. Earlier, Erdogan vowed to teach the general he denounced as a “putschist” a “lesson” if he does not stop his offensive on Tripoli.

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