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Turkey gradually sending troops to Libya, says Erdogan


Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country was "gradually" sending troops to Libya under a deal inked with its UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

"Our soldiers are gradually going," Erdogan said in a televised interview on Sunday, adding: "The duty of Turkish soldiers is to ensure ceasefire and not to fight," Xinhua news agency.

"What we will do in Libya is to strengthen the legitimate government," he added, noting an operation centre would be established in the North African country torn by a raging civil war, which pits the GNA based in the capital Tripoli against the Libyan National Army and its allies based in the east.

The mission for Turkish troops in Libya is to make coordination at the operation centre, said the Turkish leader.

"As an opposition force, we will have different teams there," he added.

The Turkish parliament on Thursday passed a motion authorizing the government to deploy troops to Libya in support of the GNA, as Ankara signed with it security and military cooperation agreements as well as a controversial maritime boundary memorandum at the end of November.

The Turkish move has prompted opposition from some of its regional neighbours, while Libya's elected parliament, the GNA's rival in the war, voted on Saturday to sever ties with Turkey.

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