Turkish President Erdogan on Sunday announced that Turkish military unit had started to move into Libya. Erdogan said that Turkish troops were moving in with the intention of supporting Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj's internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).
The decision to move into Libya was approved by the Turkish parliament on Thursday. According to the bill approved by the Parliament, the move was taken to protect Ankara's interests in North Africa and the Mediterranean and also to maintain peace and stability in Libya which has been gripped in violence by the Libyan National Army and other rebel forces.
In an interview with local media, Erdogan said that a Turkish lieutenant general will be leading Turkish troops on the ground and that troops are gradually moving into Libya right now. The GNA requested assistance from Turkey as General Khalifa Haftar's forces continue their assault on Tripoli. General Haftar is backed by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
Meanwhile, protests erupted in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Friday after Turkey authorised the deployment of troops to Libya to support the UN-backed government in Tripoli that is battling forces loyal to a rival government 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.
The Tripoli-based government of Sarraj has faced an offensive by the rival regime in the east and forces loyal to commander General Khalifa Haftar. The fighting has threatened to plunge Libya into violent chaos rivalling the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. In Benghazi, demonstrators expressed their anger at what they labelled a "Turkish invasion" of their country and chanted slogans in support of Haftar's regime.