Turkey has moved 1,200 Syrian rebel fighters from northern Syria to training camps near Izmir before flying them to Libya to take part in the fighting there, the Kremlin-linked Russian Federal News Agency (FAN) reported.
The fighters were flown by a Libyan airline to the city of Misrata where they joined the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord in its fight against the eastern-based Libyan National Army, said FAN.
The Russian news site said Qatar was helping bankroll the transfer of Syrian fighters, who are reportedly paid $2,000 to fight in the civil war.
In addition to the Syrian rebel fighters, 50 instructors from SADAT, a Turkish private security firm closely linked to the government, have arrived in the Libyan capital city of Tripoli alongside Turkish army instructors, the report said.
Turkey signed a deal with the Tripoli government in November that allows for the deployment of Turkish troops to the north African country, which has an important place in Turkey’s eastern Mediterranean policy.
The conflict in Libya has heated up since the deal was signed, with Libyan National Army leader General Khalifa Haftar redoubling his efforts to capture Tripoli in an offensive launched in December and Turkey reportedly sending troops, weapons and armoured vehicles this month.
A second deal signed in November sees Turkey and Libya as maritime neighbours, granting Turkey a large swathe of the eastern Mediterranean see that overlaps with competing claims from Greece and Cyprus.