Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday scolded Fox TV reporter Barış Kaya for a question about his earlier remarks on Turkey’s casualties in Libya, the Diken news website reported.
“Your remarks about ‘a few martyrs’ have drawn reactions from the opposition. What would you like to say on that?” Kaya asked Erdoğan during a press conference prior to his departure for an official visit to Azerbaijan.
“FOX should first become a serious media outlet,” Erdoğan said. “Stop spreading fake news.”
“We have a few martyrs [in Libya],” he had said on Feb. 22. “But in return for a few casualties, we have killed some 100 [of Khalifa Haftar’s] forces. The martyrs’ hill will not remain vacant.”
Turkey has dispatched troops to war-torn Libya in support of the Tripoli-based government, which enjoys UN recognition, against a militia led by Haftar.
Erdoğan had initially claimed in January that the Turkish military would only be in Libya for training purposes and not as combatants.
However, he had confirmed the deployment of other fighters to the field without clarifying who they would be. Several videos have circulated on social media of what was alleged to be Syrian rebels being flown to Libya.
FOX reporter Kaya also brought up the topic of Syrian fighters and asked in what capacity they were being sent to Libya.
“Mr. Kemal should rather ask this,” Erdoğan said, meaning Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition. “What is Wagner doing on Haftar’s side?” he went on, referring to a group of Russia-funded mercenaries reportedly fighting against the Tripoli government.
“Those going there from Syria have a common denominator. These brothers of ours who are with us in Syria consider it a honor to serve on our side in Libya, too.”