Turkey sending growing number of Syrian mercenaries to Libya

A file photo of Turkey-backed members of Syrian National Army. EPA-EFE/STR

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At least 2,000 Syrian militiamen have been recruited by Ankara to fight in Libya for a monthly wage of $2,000 (€1,830) and the promise of Turkish citizenship — an attractive offer for those in Syrian opposition-held areas where salaries are a tiny fraction of that number — according to multiple media reports.

The Guardian newspaper reported that at least 650 fighters have been enlisted in northern Syria mainly form the Turkey-backed members of Syrian National Armyand transported to Libya through Turkey in the past two months, with a further 1,350 en route or currently training in Turkey. They have been given a six-month contract signed with the UN-backed government of Fayez Sarraj, rather than the Turkish military.

Ankara is also paying for the medical bills of injured soldiers and returning the dead to Syria, up to 14 of whom have already been repatriated, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

The opposition Syrian National Army (SNA), Ankara and Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) have repeatedly denied the recruitment drive. In January, regional media reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had only sent 35 military advisers.

Read more via DW/The Guardian

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