Haftar’s forces claim 16 Turkish troops killed in Libya: report

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Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar patrol in the southern Libyan city of Sebha, on February 9, 2019. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

Forces loyal to Libyan eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar said on Sunday they had killed 16 Turkish soldiers in recent weeks, a day after Turkey acknowledged it had lost several “martyrs” in combat in the North African country, Reuters reported.

Khalid al-Mahjoub, a spokesman for Haftar’s self-styled Libya National Army (LNA), said the Turks were killed in the port city of Misrata, in battles in Tripoli and in the town of al-Falah south of the capital.

Turkey backs Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and has sent Syrian soldiers along with some of its own soldiers and weapons to help the Tripoli-based administration repel an attempt by the LNA to capture the city.

Haftar’s forces are backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, and have also had help from Russian mercenaries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday acknowledged some Turkish losses in Libya’s “struggle.”

“We are there [in Libya] with our [Turkish] soldiers and our teams from the Syrian National Army. We continue the struggle there. We have several martyrs. In return, however, we have killed nearly a hundred [of Haftar’s] forces,” Erdoğan said.

The Syrian National Army, also known as Free Syrian Army, is a Turkish-backed Syrian rebel group fighting against pro-Damascus forces in northern Syria.

The deployment of Turkish soldiers and sophisticated air defenses has erased small gains made by the LNA with the help of Russian mercenaries, returning the frontline roughly to where it was at start of Haftar’s campaign in April 2019.

Ceasefire talks between Libya’s warring sides resumed on Thursday after the GNA had pulled out of negotiations following the shelling of Tripoli’s port by Haftar’s forces.

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