Erdogan says Turkish soldiers have begun Libya deployment

The move comes after the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord made a formal request for military support

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)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkish soldiers had begun deploying to Libya after parliament approved such a move last week.

"Our soldiers' duty there is coordination. They will develop the operation centre there. Our soldiers are gradually going right now," he told CNN Turk broadcaster in an interview.

The Turkish parliament passed a bill allowing the government to send troops to Libya aimed at shoring up the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

The Tripoli government has come under sustained attack since military strongman general Khalifa Haftar launched his offensive in April.

Mr Erdogan said Turkey would not be deploying its own combat forces. "Right now, we will have different units serving as a combatant force," he said, without giving details on who the fighters would be and where they would come from.

Senior Turkish military personnel would coordinate the "fighting force", Mr Erdogan explained, sharing their experience and information to support Tripoli.

Turkey's move comes after the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord made a formal request for military support.

Libya and Turkey signed security and maritime agreements in November last year, angering Mediterranean countries including Greece and Cyprus who also seek to exploit energy resources in the region.

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