The Middle East Eye is reporting Turkey has reached out to and is planning on sending several Syrian rebel groups as part of its troop deployment to Libya, including the Sultan Murad Division, the Suqour Al Sham Brigades and the Faylaq al Sham. Syrian opposition sources are saying that the Suqour al Sham brigades, which were founded to fight the Syrian government, have already accepted the offer and have begun to transfer their forces to Turkey ahead of deployment to Libya.
Faylaq al-Sham, a group with reported links to the Turkish government, is expected to head these efforts, as its members have a past partnership with some Libyan militias. When fighting broke out in 2011, Tripoli-based militias, now fighting with the GNA, sent arms and ammunition to Syrian rebels. In 2014, when fighting broke out in Libya, Faylaq al-Sham returned the favor, sending advisers to Tripoli.
The Syrian opposition heads denied they were sending fighters to Libya. But one source said that some had already begun arriving in country. Fighters from Syria are reportedly getting $300 for a signing bonus and can earn $2000 a month to fight in the Libyan conflict.
The reports about Syrian fighters have been scattered.
One analyst, Babak Taghvaee, wrote on his twitter that according to a former Turkish air force pilot, more than 250 “Jihadist” militia fighters from Syria had already landed in Tripoli. However, Libyan affairs analyst Arnaud Delalande said such claims are “pure gesture and rhetoric”.
One Libyan official told Bloomberg news that Turkey is looking to send ethnic Turkmen fighters from Syria, who had already fought alongside Turkey in northern Syria. If Turkey goes through with such a move, this would certainly further complicate the already complex situation on the ground in Libya.
Another defence researcher who spoke with Turkish officials confirmed the reports, and told the Independent that senior Turkish intelligence agents who managed Turkey’s Syria operations were now being redeployed to Libya, to liaison with the Syrian militias who will be on the ground. The analyst said this includes the Turkish backed Sham Legion, a group with Muslim Brotherhood ties.