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Iran Press TV

UN official says militants from Syria being sent to fight in Libya

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 19 May 2020 2:29 PM

United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen says militants from the Arab country are being sent to Libya to fight on both sides of the conflict there.

"Let us… remember that Syria's instability reverberates elsewhere, too – including as far as Libya, given reports of fighters being recruited in Syria in large numbers and sent to fight on both sides of that conflict," Pedersen said in an online UN Security Council meeting on Monday, Russia's TASS reported.

For the past six years, Libya has been split between two rival camps, namely the UN-recognized government, and another camp based in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by rebel forces under the command of a military strongman named Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar is supported by the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan, and launched a deadly offensive to capture Tripoli, the seat of the government, in April last year. His forces haven't been able to advance past the city's outskirts.

Turkey has previously been reported to recruit and dispatch allied militants from Syria to fight on behalf of the Libyan government.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has confirmed the presence of those militants in Libya.

Last week, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkey-backed militant groups in Syria had sent teenage militants to Libya.

Libyan army defeats rebels near Tunisia border

On Tuesday, the Libyan army announced that it had retaken two towns from the rebels under Haftar's command near the Tunisian border.

According to a Libyan army statement carried by Turkey's state Anadolu news agency, the towns of Badr and Tij were liberated.

Footage from local media also showed Libyan military vehicles purportedly entering Badr.

A day earlier, government forces had retaken the strategic al-Watiya airbase, south of Tripoli.

Watiya was seized by Haftar's rebels in August 2014 and had been used as the strongman's headquarters ever since.

Libya plunged into chaos in 2011 when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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