LIBYA — Top diplomats in Libya have called on Turkey to withdraw foreign forces and mercenaries from the country as it heads towards elections later this year.
Libya’s foreign minister, Najla al-Manqoush urged Turkey to implement UN Security Council resolutions demanding the repatriation of over 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya.
“We call on (Turkey) to take steps to implement all the provisions of the Security Council resolutions and to cooperate together to expel all foreign forces and mercenaries from the Libyan territories,” she said
The minister made the request during a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who had visited Tripoli alongside Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and other top military and intelligence officials.
Cavusoglu responded to the request saying that Turkish forces were in Libya as part of a training agreement reached with a previous Libyan administration.
“There are those who equate our legal presence with the foreign mercenary groups that fight in this country for money.” He said
The Turkish minister pointed out that Turkey values to preserve Libya’s integrity, sovereignty, independence and political unity.
“In the face of the attacks on Tripoli, the legitimate government of Libya invited some countries, including us. Only Turkey replied in the affirmative to this call,” he added.
According to Jalel Harchoui, a senior Libya researcher at Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, al-Manqoush could face criticism from pro-Turkey Libyans for ideological reasons and others in Tripoli who still fear a new attack from eastern-based forces.
In 2019, Turkey deployed troops and Syrian mercenaries to fight along with Tripoli militias after forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter launched attack on Libya’s capital.
General elections in Libya will be held in December 24.