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Russia says Turkey helping foreign militants enter Libya

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Libyan government forces rest in an area south of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on January 12, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Russia says Turkey is helping foreign militants cross into Libya, where rebel forces are attempting to unseat the internationally-recognized government.

The Interfax news agency on Wednesday cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as making the remark.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously confirmed the presence of pro-Turkish Syrian militants in Libya.

“Turkey is there with a training force. There are also people from the Syrian National Army,” Erdogan said last Friday, referring to a group of anti-Damascus militants previously known as the so-called Free Syrian Army.

Turkey has also deployed its regular military forces to Libya to shore up the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Rebel forces under the command of a general named Khalifa Haftar have been fighting since April last year to capture Tripoli and unseat the government. Numerous attempts to bring about peace between the two sides have failed. A shaky ceasefire, brokered by Russia and Turkey, has been in place since January but has been violated dozens of times.

The conflicting sides have recently been negotiating under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva.

Bogdanov also pointed out that Libya's warring sides were generally observing the truce, but did not seem to be ready to fully embrace the military and political decisions made in the Berlin conference in January, hinting at an agreement that the tentative truce would eventually become permanent to set the stage for the advancement of a political process.

Libya rebels claim to have downed Turkish drone

Separately on Wednesday, Libyan rebel forces said they had shot down a Turkish drone that was flying over the Mitiga International Airport, east of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

A video released by the Libyan rebels on Wednesday showed a destroyed unmanned aerial vehicle purportedly south of Tripoli.


Libya has since 2014 been divided between the internationally recognized government of Sarraj, and a camp in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by the rebels under the command of Haftar.

The rebel militia receive support from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Their offensive on Tripoli has so far killed 1,000 people and displaced some 146,000 people, according to the UN.

Back in November, Sarraj signed a military cooperation deal with President Erdogan, under which Ankara agreed to send troops to support the government.

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