The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR | “Reports of Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries return from Libya untrue”

SOHR appeals to evacuate Syrian fighters from Libya immediately

Very reliable SOHR sources have confirmed that the Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries are still in the military barracks in the Turkish-bases in Libya. Furthermore, a new batch of nearly 90 fighters of Turkish-backed factions operating in Turkish-held areas in Afrin were sent to Libya in the past few days in return for the return of a similar batch to Syria as a part of the routine back-and-forth transfer operations.


This development coincided with the repeated international appeals to evacuate foreign forces from Libya, as well as the highlight and focus by media outlets, especially by the Syrian Observatory, on the file of the Syrian mercenaries in Libya.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has been all along calling for the evacuation of all Syrian fighters from Libya immediately and bringing them back to Syria as soon as possible, so that they will not be turned into mercenaries any more whether by the Turkish government or the Russian forces, as SOHR sources have also confirmed that the Russian-backed mercenaries recruited by the Russian security company “Wagner” are maintained in the Libyan territory.


A few days ago, SOHR activists reported that until this moment, no Syrian mercenaries in Libya have been withdrawn. It is likely that the withdrawal operations are media illusion unless there are international agencies to monitor the process of returning the mercenaries to Syria via Turkey likewise the fake operation of withdrawing the mercenaries that was decided in March.


A day earlier, SOHR activists reported preparations are underway to return new batch of Turkey-backed mercenaries who are stationed in camps in the Libyan capita Tripoli in the coming few days.


According to SOHR activists, leaders of the groups and factions asked based on Turkish intelligence request asked 2,000 members to prepare their luggage for sending it back to Syria in light of the Libya-Libyan deal and the political process in Libya.


Number of Syrian mercenaries of different factions of the National Army loyal to Turkey and stationed in Libyan lands are estimated by 7,000 from Syrian nationals.


On Sept. 6, reliable SOHR sources confirmed that the commanders of Turkish-backed factions operating in Libya started to deliver the salaries of their affiliated mercenaries following the broad discontent and rebellion by the mercenaries in Libya in the recent time.


The mercenaries’ discontent had come after decreasing and deducting their salaries by the factions’ commanders.


According to SOHR sources, the factions’ commanders attempted to break the rebellion by giving the mercenaries their salaries estimated at 2,500 TL (nearly 300 USD) each.


On the other hand, several factions, including Sultan Murad and al-Mu’tasem Division, have threatened fighters under their command in Libya of repressing their families in “Olive Branch” areas in Syria and expelling them from their houses in the case that these fighters continue their rebellion.


On August 30, SOHR activists reported broad anger and a state of rebellion prevailing in the camps of Turkish-backed mercenaries in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, after leaders of the factions decreased their salaries to 2,500 TL (300 USD) per month. It is worth noting that the mercenaries receive their salaries every four months.


According to SOHR, tens of the factions’ members rejected to join the tactic and morning sports exercises, protesting the decrease of their salaries. In addition, the mercenaries accused the factions’ commanders of looting their money and preventing them from taking their leaves, as the commanders imposed 1,000 US dollars on every fighter who desired to take a leave and return back to Syria.


On August 13, reliable sources told the Syrian Observatory that Turkish-backed factions smuggled north-west African-born European fighters to Libya by transporting them among batches of Syrian mercenaries heading there, as these fighters planned to return to their countries in Europe.


According to SOHR sources, the leader of the Turkish-backed faction of Sultan Suleiman Shah “Abu Amsha” transported five European fighters of African descent to Libya, exploiting the back-and-forth transfer operations of Syrian mercenaries from and to Libya. It is worth noting that there were nine other jihadists being prepared to be transported to Libya with the following batches of Syrian mercenaries.


The Syrian Observatory had pointed out to the fact that nearly 10,000 jihadists, mostly Tunisians, were transported from Syria to Libya in 2020.