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Libya FM calls for withdrawal of foreign fighters

Members of Libyan special forces trained by the Turkish military, parade during a graduation ceremony in the coastal city al-Khums, about 120kms east of the capital Tripoli   -  
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MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP or licensors

civil war in Libya

Libya's top diplomat on Monday called for the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from the North African country as it heads toward elections later this year.

Najla al-Manqoush, the foreign minister of Libya's interim government, made the appeal during a news conference with her Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Tripoli.

She urged Turkey to implement UN Security Council resolutions demanding the repatriation of more than 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya.

Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi and split the country between a UN-supported government in Tripoli and rival authorities based in the country's east.

Each side was backed by an array of local militias as well as regional and foreign powers.

Forces loyal to Khalifa Hifter, the military commander controlling eastern and southern parts of Libya, launched an offensive in In April 2019 to try and capture Tripoli, supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates,

The campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support of the UN-supported government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.

Cavusoglu, who traveled to Tripoli along with the defence minister and other top military and intelligence officials, has insisted Turkish forces were in Libya as part of a training agreement that was reached with the previous Libya administration.

Security Council diplomats say there are more than 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, including 13,000 Syrians and 11,000 Sudanese, along with Russians and Chadians.

The Security Council's 15 member nations agreed in an informal meeting last week that getting the foreign fighters and mercenaries to go home was the only way forward, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed.