Erdogan says Turkey already sending soldiers to Libya

International

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan deliver a speech at an event in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. Turkey’s parliament on Thursday authorised the deployment of troops to Libya to support the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli battle forces loyal to a rival government that is seeking to capture the capital. Turkish lawmakers voted 325-184 at an emergency session in favour of a one-year mandate allowing the government to dispatch troops amid concerns that Turkish forces could aggravate the conflict in Libya and destabilise the region. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s president said Sunday that the country was deploying military units to Libya, where Ankara is supporting the embattled U.N.-recognized government in Tripoli.

Turkey’s parliament authorized the deployment of troops to Libya on Thursday, following a separate deal on sending military experts and weapons signed into law in December.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised interview that Turkish soldiers were “already going gradually” to Libya. He said Turkish soldiers were tasked with “coordination” at a command center.

“The goal of the Turkish armed forces is not to fight, but to ensure a cease-fire in Libya” while supporting the government in Tripoli, Erdogan said, calling it the “legitimate government.” Erdogan’s comments were carried by broadcaster CNN Turk.

The Tripoli-based government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj has faced an offensive by the rival regime in the east and forces loyal to commander Gen. Khalifa Hifter. The fighting has threatened to plunge Libya into violent chaos rivaling the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Ankara supports Sarraj’s government along with Italy and Qatar.

The eastern government is supported by France Russia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and other key Arab countries.

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