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Ankara divides Syrian rebels on fighting in Libya

Turkey’s plan to recruit mercenaries from Syria for the Libyan battlefield is gaining traction but appears to creating rifts among the Syrian opposition as fighters are lured to Libya by Turkish promises of money and more.
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A week after the Turkish parliament approved a government motion for a military deployment in Libya, the scope of the mission remains unclear, but Ankara seems inclined to make use of non-military elements, including militia from Syria. While recruiting fighters from Syria may be seen as a relatively easy task for Turkey, the move appears to be opening rifts in opposition ranks.

In a television interview Jan. 5, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would set up an operation center in Libya under the command of a Turkish lieutenant general and that Turkish soldiers had already started to “gradually” move into the war-torn country, where Ankara backs the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. The Turkish troops, he stressed, will not have a combat role. According to Erdogan, “The aim of the Turkish Armed Forces is not to fight or make others fight … [but] to prevent developments that could lead to humanitarian tragedies and drag the region into instability.” Yet Turkey will have “other units as combat forces,” he said. In remarks the following day, Erdogan highlighted the role of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), saying that it “is duly performing its duties in Libya.”

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