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Coronavirus is likely to limit Turkish military operations in Syria, but not in Libya

This post was published in The Washington Institute by Soner Chagaptai and Denise Yksel. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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ANKARA, (BM) – The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to limit Turkish military operations in Syria, but it will not affect the operation in Libya, according journalists Soner Chagaptai and Denise Yuksel.

Turkey and Russia signed a ceasefire on March 5 to put an end to hostilities in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib between Turkish-supported forces and the Syrian military supported by Russia, they recall in their article for the Washington Institute.

The ceasefire was largely respected, and on April 5, Turkey announced that it would limit its cross-border military operations to help curb the coronavirus pandemic.

But while the prospect of inevitable fighting in Syria is receding, the opposite may happen in Libya, where Turkey intervened to support the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (PNS) in its fight against the forces of the Libyan national army of Khalifa Haftar, supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, analysts say.

“One of the factors underlying this difference is that Syria is adjacent to Turkey, which raises concerns about the potential consequences of the infection for thousands of ground forces concentrated by Ankara near the border. This does not apply to Libya, which lies on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea and requires a relatively small number of Turkish advisers and weapons to change the situation, minimizing pandemic-related worries,” they point out in the article.

The fighting in Libya has intensified recently when the PNS recaptured six cities near Tripoli, which would have been impossible without the support of Turkish aviation, analysts say. Haftar launched rocket and artillery shelling of civilian targets in and around Tripoli after Turkish air defense systems began to limit the effectiveness of the UAE-led unmanned aerial vehicle campaign against the capital, the authors note.

“These events, coupled with the relatively limited military risk of coronavirus complications in Libya, indicate that further Turkish escalation is inevitable – and may already be in progress,” the analysts concluded.

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Editorial team
Original source: The Washington Institute

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