Erdogan Says Turkey to Have ‘Combatant Groups’ in Libya Other Than Its Soldiers

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  • January 6, 2020
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The President has made remarks on Turkey's move to send troops to Libya and the US assassination of Iran's Qassem Soleimani.

Turkey has begun to send troops to Libya upon a deal with the UN-recognized government in the country, President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a TV program on CNN Turk and Kanal D.

An operations center will be set up and headed by a lieutenant general from Turkey, he noted.

Turkey will also have "combatant forces" in Libya, Erdogan said, adding that these forces will not be the soldiers of Turkey but will be coordinated by Turkey's high-level commanders.

News reports recently alleged that Turkey-backed Syrian armed groups will head to Libya to fight Haftar forces. The government neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu later in the day clarified Erdogan's words, saying that "Our President's remarks are actually clear. When we take a look at the memorandum of understanding we signed with Libya, there are experience sharing, training, instruction, knowledge sharing, technology sharing, many cooperations, expert works in the updated agreement."

"We are against mercenaries coming to Libya. We think mercenaries cannot bring peace and stability," Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference with South Sudan's Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Awut Deng Acuil following their bilateral meeting in the capital Ankara.

"However, our aim is to establish a cease-fire as soon as possible and to contribute to the revival of the political process and to accelerate it," Cavusoglu said, adding that the only means of solution is the political solution.

Turkey and Libya signed two different deals last month, one on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea and one on military cooperation. Turkey's parliament last week passed a motion allowing the deployment of troops in Libya for one year.

Assassination of Qassem Soleimani

The US assassination of Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani increased the tensions in the region, the President also remarked.

Soleimani, the commander of Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force, was killed on Friday (January 3) by a US drone strike in Baghdad.

The only solution to the current situation is "restraint," Erdogan said, adding that he spoke with the presidents of Iran, Iraq, France and Qatar to ease tensions.

Soleimani had proved himself as a commander and was "exceptionally valued" by Ali Khamanei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. "Unfortunately, the US choosing him caused tensions to rise in the region."

"I think the killing a top-rank commander of a country will probably not remain without a response. Therefore, this choice [killing Soleimani] was not appropriate in my opinion," he remarked.

Source: English Bianet