Haftar vows continued fight against “Turkish colonisers” in Libya

Number of Turkish-backed mercenaries in Libya said to rise above 10,000.
Monday 25/05/2020
Fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord run for cover, near Tripoli. (AFP)
Fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord run for cover, near Tripoli. (AFP)

TRIPOLI--Amid reports of additional Turkish-backed mercenaries arriving in Libya, Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), pledged to continue the fight against the Turkish presence in his country.

In a two-minute audio speech addressed to his forces Saturday, Haftar said the LNA “will fight and fight” against what he called “Turkish colonialism.”

File picture of Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar. (Reuters)
File picture of Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar. (Reuters)

“To our brave officers and soldiers, you are fighting a holy war that is open to all fronts, a comprehensive war in which there is nothing but victory,” Haftar said in his speech. “Every Turkish soldier, mercenary sent by (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan to Libya and every traitor who has allowed the occupier to return is a target of our armed forces.”

“You are creating glory while fighting the odious coloniser greedy for our wealth,” he added.

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said Sunday that known ISIS figure Mohamed al-Ruwaidani, previously transferred to Libya by Turkey’s intelligence,  has been captured while fighting for the GNA.

The capture of the ISIS operative illustrates the type of ties between Ankara and the terrorist group, said Mismari.

Fighters with the GNA at a position near the town of Garabulli, some 70 kms east of the capital Tripoli. (AFP)
Fighters with the GNA at a position near the town of Garabulli, some 70 kms east of the capital Tripoli. (AFP)

The LNA spokesman added that LNA operations have continued in recent days and included the downing of 30 Turkish drones.

Recent reports indicate the arrival in Libya of new Turkish-recruited mercenaries from Syria.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), “a new batch of 500 Turkish-backed mercenaries” has been dispatched to Libya to fight on the side of militants and militias loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (LNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj against the forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Haftar.

The total number of mercenary recruits sent to Libya so far stands at 10,100, said SOHR Sunday.

An additional 3,400 are reportedly receiving training in Turkey.

The watchdog reported that among the recruited mercenaries, a total of 318 from a number of pro-Turkish factions, such as al-Mu’tasim Division, Sultan Murad, Suqur Al-Shamal Brigade, Al-Hamzat and Suleiman Shah, have been killed.

Libya and its neighbours

Aguila Saleh, the speaker of Libya’s parliament, called for the UN Security Council to withdraw its recognition of the Tripoli-based government and appoint a new administration representing all Libyan regions.

In an address to the Libyan people on the eve of Eid al-Fitr, he also called for clearing Tripoli of “terrorist groups” and a fair distribution of the nation’s oil and gas revenues.