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Turkey using bomb disposal robots in Libya, other places: Report

Bassem Aly , Tuesday 21 Jul 2020
Bayraktar TB2
File photo: A Turkish Bayraktar TB2 AP
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Turkey is now using robots in Libya and other areas of conflict that Ankara is involved in, a Turkish defence source told TRT World on Monday.

“Since the mid-2010s, Turkey has used its homemade robots in its military and police operations to deal with improvised explosive devices (IEDs). We are now using these robots in Libya, Syria and other places, where our soldiers have a military presence,” the sources was quoted as saying by the website of the Turkish state international news channel.

This report follows a Sunday tweet by the Turkish defence ministry in which it showed footage of an "indigenous robot TMR II (Kutlu), which enables remote control and safe intervention, [which] is effectively being used by our Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams in Libya’s Tripoli during the operations of the detonation of IEDs and ammunition.”

Forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA), who are supported by Turkey, are reportedly planning to launch an attack on the port city of Sirte and in Jufra, which has a major military airbase.

The GNA backed by Turkish troops, Syrian mercenaries and Qatar, is based in Tripoli and controls Libya’s western and northwestern areas. According to a recent report by the US Defense Department, Turkey sent between 3,500 and 3,800 Syrian mercenaries to Libya fin the first three months of this year.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), allied with the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, controls Libya’s oil-rich, eastern regions. Egypt, France, Russia and the UAE back the LNA.

In June, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on Libyan parties “to respect the current lines and start negotiations.” El-Sisi said that Sirte and Jufra are "considered a red line for Egyptian national security."

He also said that Egypt has called for a comprehensive settlement in Libya that involves the elimination of terrorist militias and has participated in Libya-related international conferences.

Speaking to Sky News Arabia on Sunday, Brigadier-General Khaled Al-Mahgoub, a leading LNA commander, said Turkey "has fears about the implications of launching an attack on Sirte and Jufra."

"In their rooms of operations, the Turks are precisely examining the offensive, and they are afraid about its implications, for the war might get larger in scale and go beyond Sirte and Jufra," Al-Mahgoub said, asserting that the LNA is ready to block any Turkish attack on both cities.

"Erdogan was advised to launch a quick and sweeping offensive to fulfil the Turkish objective as soon as possible. But this will not happen because the LNA troops, in addition to the Arab backing, are strongly deployed."

The Turkish-backed militias are moving near Sirte as an attempt to inflate the Turkish military power, Al-Mahgoub said.

On Monday, Egypt's parliament unanimously approved "sending elements of the Egyptian armed forces in combat missions outside the borders of the Egyptian state to defend the Egyptian national security in the western strategic front against the acts of criminal militias and foreign terrorist elements until the forces' mission ends." 

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