Turkish forces ready for deployment in Libya, ministry spokeswoman says

Turkish forces ready for deployment in Libya, ministry spokeswoman says

ANKARA-Anadolu Agency
Turkish forces ready for deployment in Libya, ministry spokeswoman says

The Turkish Armed Forces are fully prepared for their possible deployment in Libya as required, the country's National Defense Ministry announced on Dec. 27.

The Turkish military is ready to serve on order within and outside Turkey, ministry spokeswoman Nadide Şebnem Aktop told reporters in the capital Ankara.

On Dec. 26, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey would lend support to the UN-recognized Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), which is fighting eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar who is based in the east of the country.

On Nov. 27, Ankara and the Tripoli-based GNA signed two separate agreements, one on military cooperation and another on maritime boundaries of the countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Following the military cooperation deal, Erdogan said Turkey might consider sending troops to Libya if the GNA made such a request.

Since the ouster of late leader Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the GNA in the capital Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.

Speaking at a year-end ministerial general evaluation meeting, Aktop said over 580,000 Syrians had voluntarily returned to areas in Syria cleared of terrorists by Turkey.

Since 2016, Turkey has conducted three successful operations in northern Syria against the terrorist YPG/PKK and ISIL: Operation Euphrates Shield (2016-17), Operation Olive Branch (2018) and Operation Peace Spring (2019).

The latest operation east of the Euphrates River aims to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed on Aug. 7 to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home.

Aktop added that a total of 1,789 YPG/PKK terrorists had been "neutralized" in 2019, including 255 who surrendered within and outside Turkey.

Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in statements to imply terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

Turkish security forces have launched 150 operations, including 31 full-scale, 119 medium scales on the YPG/PKK terrorists' shelters within and outside the Turkish borders.

A total of 1,066 improvised explosives have been destroyed, 1,015 weapons, 69 anti-tank missiles, 1,598 hand bombs and 174 mines had been identified and disabled, Aktop said.