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Apr 26 2019

Turks among foreign mercenaries aiding Tripoli gov't – Libyan Army

AW's sources in Libya have said two Turkish citizens reported abducted in Tripoli early this month were working as foreign mercenaries.

Libyan sources quoted by Arab Weekly have said the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) is receiving help from foreign mercenaries in its fight against the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

The sources said the LNA had arrested a “number of armed Turkish elements” fighting alongside GNA forces this week and had seized their passports.

The passports published in the Arab Weekly are of two Turks from the village of Samandağ in Hatay, southern Turkey, who were reportedly abducted early in the month.

On April 13, the local news site Samandağ Ayna reported that Ahmet Demir and his brother-in-law, Volkan Altınok, had been abducted in Tripoli, where Demir is said to have run a restaurant.

Demir’s Facebook account lists him as a restaurant manager, and neither man’s account contains any evidence the men have worked as soldiers.

The news report said the pair had not been heard from for five days (as of Apr. 13) after the restaurant they were working on was raided by “security forces” who arrested all staff present.

The newspaper quoted a local member of parliament, Republican People’s Party deputy Serkan Topal, as saying he had raised the matter with Turkish diplomats in Libya.

Another report published in the Samandağ Newspaper on April 16 quoted family members as saying they feared for the lives of Demir and Altınok, who they still had not heard from.

Major General Ahmad Mismari, a spokesman from the LNA, told the Arab Weekly that both foreign elements and Islamic extremists have been fighting alongside the GNA in Tripoli.

The general told press these elements had come through Turkey, and said a reconnaissance plane flown by an Ecuadorian pilot had been brought down near Tripoli earlier this week.

Haftar’s forces have taken control over large parts of the east and south of Libya, and launched a surprise offensive against Tripoli, the seat of Fayez al-Sarraj’s GNA, in early April, and has made steady progress since then towards capturing the capital.

Turkey supports Sarraj’s forces, while Haftar has the backing of Ankara’s regional rivals including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.