Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that the Turkish military has started moving units to Libya to support the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli, Reuters reported.
“There will be an operation center [in Libya], there will be a Turkish lieutenant general leading and they will be managing the situation over there. [Turkish soldiers] are gradually moving there right now,” Erdoğan said in an interview with CNN Turk.
“There will be different units over there as combatant forces, they will not be from our military. Our top-level military personnel will be coordinating the situation over there,” he added, according to the report.
Turkey’s parliament approved a bill last week authorizing the deployment of troops to Libya at the request of the GNA, to help battle forces led by General Khalifa Haftar in the east, the commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army. Hafter is backed by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
The move by Turkey comes after Israel, Cyprus and Greece inked a massive new pipeline deal to transport natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean to markets in Europe.
Turkey, with decades of tensions with Greece and Cyprus, and more recently with Israel, has strongly opposed the pipeline. It also recently signed an agreement with Libya’s Tripoli-based government setting maritime boundaries that conflict with those envisioned by Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Egypt.
Led by Erdoğan, an aggressive Islamist, Turkey is seeking to get a piece of the action.
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