On April 25, the forces of Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) directed rocket fire at the town of Tarhounah which is located 50 kilometres southeast of the capital Tripoli. According to the official representative of the Libyan National Army (LNA), General Ahmed al-Mismari, over 20 rockets were launched in the direction of residential areas where peaceful civilians live.
Earlier in April, forces of the GNA, supported by the EU and Turkey, regained control of the border with neighboring Tunisia after lightning strike attacks and the capture of Sabrat, Surman and Al-Adzhaylat towns, located west of Tripoli. According to Khaled Mishri, head of the Libyan Supreme State Council in Tripoli, after control was established over the coast west of Tripoli by parts of the GNA, the “primary military goal” was to take over the city of Tarhounah.
Thus, by their hostility and media statements, the GNA has openly demonstrated their intentions – both far removed from peaceful and diplomatic means. This approach explicitly contradicts the outcome of international conference on the settlement of the Libyan conflict, which was held in Berlin on January 19 this year.
Participants at this event, including representatives of the GNA, agreed on a ceasefire and compliance with the arms embargo, and they also agreed on the punishment for violating of this ban – the application of sanctions against countries in breach of the agreement.
It is quite elucidating to note the other countries which had participated in the Berlin conference. Interestingly, there was Turkey among them: Ankara feigned their commitment to a ceasefire and arms embargo agreement in the framework of the Berlin conference while openly supporting the GNA by sending their armed forces to Tripoli.
“We consider the Berlin summit as an important step to consolidate the ceasefire and move towards a political solution,” Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan told media before participating in the conference on the Libyan conflict. But, as it happens, such statements were only of nominal value.
According to General Ahmed al-Mismari, Turkey continues to ferry across mercenaries and military equipment for launching attacks against Libyans, specifically in Tarhounah.
“Turkey is trying to exploit the world’s preoccupation with the Coronavirus pandemic to work behind the scenes and carry out terror attacks on the Libyan towns,” al-Mismari told Al Arabyia news channel.
Reportedly, in 2020 alone, Turkey deployed up to 2 400 mercenaries to Libya, mainly from the armed Syrian opposition, in order to support the GNA led by Fayez al-Sarraj, who has settled in Tripoli. All militants deployed to Libya have had experience in fighting against Syrian government forces. About 1 700 pro-Turkish gunmen are being trained in training camps in Turkey. In the northern regions of Syria, controlled by Turkey and its allied armed groups, four centers have been set up to process recruits. In total, about 6 000 mercenaries may have been sent to Libya.
Moreover, Turkey is known for its alliances with Islamist terrorist organisations. There is a high probability that among those sent to Libya, are mercenaries from ISIS, Al Qaeda and other extremist formations.
However, the plan with militant transfers to Libya is not going all too smoothly for Turkey. Al Hadath TV channel reported that the militants of the Syrian armed opposition, dispatched to Libya by Ankara, have begun to scatter, and are instead trying to move to Europe.
According to the channel, two groups of pro-Turkish militants have already left the location of their units after they were transferred to Libya. The first group of 17 people, after getting rid of military uniforms and weapons, moved from Libya to Italy. Another group left Libya and moved to Algeria with the aim of further penetration into Europe.
It is a bitter twist of irony that such a desertion of pro-Turkish extremists became possible expressly because of Turkey itself, whose leader Erdogan has announced a policy of opening borders to the EU for refugees from Syria, Libya and other Arab countries.
For the moment, Turkey has agreed on keeping its borders shut in order to stop contagion from the Coronavirus, but, as was already reported at the FWM, borders will be opened again as soon as pandemic is over.