Erdogan says Turkish military in Libya to train pro-Serraj forces

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Istanbul, Turkey, January 24, 2020. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish military personnel being sent to Libya are supporting and training forces of the internationally recognized government of Fayez al-Serraj, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Turkey has sent a training and cooperation team to Libya as part of a military cooperation agreement signed in November with Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

“We sent, are sending our military delegation to there ... We will not leave Serraj alone. We are determined to provide all the help we can on this point,” Erdogan said.

Last week, Germany hosted a summit on Libya involving the rival camps, their main foreign backers and representatives which agreed that a permanent ceasefire has to be achieved in Tripoli to allow a political process to take place.

Speaking in Istanbul after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Erdogan also said countries which attended the Libya summit in Berlin on Sunday should not favor Serraj’s opponent, Khalifa Haftar, after he left the meeting without signing a ceasefire deal.

Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA) faction is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which have for years provided training and weapons, according to U.N. reports.

Libya has had no stable central authority since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by NATO-backed rebels in 2011. For more than five years, it has had two rival governments, in the east and the west, with streets controlled by armed groups.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans