Members of Libyan National Accord Government (GNA) militias ride in military vehicles on the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Hani Amara
CAIRO - 7 March 2020: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) documented 117 fatalities among Syrian mercenaries who joined Tripoli militias’ battles with the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Salah Al Din, Al-Ramlah, and Al Hadabah.
Those belong to al-Mu’tasim Division, Sultan Murad, Suqur Al-Shamal Brigade, Al-Hamzat and Suleiman Shah, and their bodies were taken to Al-Mashtal Sanitarium, Qaddour Sanitarium, Ghout Al-Sha’al Sanitarium.
The number of Syrian militants who arrived in “Tripoli” until present recorded nearly 4,750 while around 1,900 others are receiving training in Turkey. SOHR also revealed that nearly 150 of such mercenaries left Libya to Europe.
The recruitment pool is Afrin, areas under control of “Euphrates Shield” factions and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES). Turkey had targeted recruiting 6,000 mercenaries, and was able to attract more than that number. Yet, recruitment is still ongoing.
On March 4, the LNA shelled Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport used by Turkey to fly drones targeting concentrations of the Libyan Armed Forces. As reported by The Libya Observer, the shelling damaged the air traffic control tower, some of the airport's facilities and the runway. As a consequence, all flights were redirected to Misrata Airport.
The day before, the LNA announced targeting the Turkish Air defense platforms in the airport where Turkey started building a military base. Later in February, the Libyan Armed Forces declared taking control over Al Aziziyah town southern Tripoli after clashes with the militias protecting the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is an interim UN-recognized government.
On February 27, seven Turkish soldiers were killed in Mitiga International Airport by LNA.
Turkey has been backing Tripoli militias after it had signed two MoUs with GNA in December to achieve cooperation in the sectors of defense and gas drilling in the Mediterranean.