Turkey starts deployment of soldiers in Libya

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting of his ruling AK Party in Ankara, Turkey, December 26, 2019. Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkish soldiers had begun deploying to Libya after parliament approved such a move last week.

“Our soldiers’ duty there is coordination. They will develop the operation centre there. Our soldiers are gradually going right now,” he told CNN Turk broadcaster during an interview.

Erdogan said Turkey’s objective was “not to fight”, but “to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy”.

The Turkish parliament passed a bill allowing the government to send troops to Libya aimed at shoring up the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

Last week, Ankara passed a bill that would allow the government to send troops to Libya. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said on numerous occasions before that Turkey was ready to send troops to Libya at Tripoli’s request

Passed by 325 votes in favour and 184 against, the mandate follows an announcement by Erdoğan in late December that he would deploy troops in Libya to support Serraj.

Erdogan and Serraj in November signed a deal to boost military cooperation along with a separate accord on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean in a move that has enraged Greece, among other countries in the region.