The deployment of Syrian rebel fighters to Libya as mercenaries by the Turks in support of the Tripoli-based government in the country during the civil war is well known. However, Syrian fighters from areas held by the Syrian government have also deployed to Libya in support of forces led by Khalifa Haftar that acted as the armed forces of a rival government based out of Tobruk. These Syrian fighters have been deployed by the Russians.
At present, Libya is officially supposed to be under the authority of a unity government formed between the two rival governments, but the de facto division of control of territory between forces that had backed the Tripoli-based government in the west and forces led by Khalifa Haftar in the east remains. That said, the fighting has also died down with the frontlines largely frozen, and so there is less need for foreign fighters now. There are also ongoing calls for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters from Libya. Over in Syria, meanwhile, many questions are still asked about the possibility of going to Libya for assignments and work, primarily in the hope of obtaining good salaries amid the deterioration in the economic situation that has been most acutely felt in Syrian government-held areas.
Recently, I had the chance to interview briefly a Syrian fighter who recently returned from Libya, having gone there as per a contract arrangement with the Russians. The fighter requested anonymity. I also apologise for lack of specific details on the terms of contracts, as these matters are supposed to remain secret.
Q: Can you describe work in Libya on the general level?
A: Brother, the work in Libya is basically food and sleep, and you have guarding job for two hours at night only, and everything comes to you- your food, your drink, your cigarettes- at the expense of the Russians.
Q: And there are no fierce battles, right? Just guarding and protection of installations?
A: Guarding, yes, but installations we did not see them. And as for battles, there is nothing of this sort, as the situation is extremely secure.
Q: In general, many of the youth think of going to Libya. Do you advise them to go?
A: In the current time no, because the salaries have been reduced, and cigarettes are at their expense, and the food and drink no longer satiate like before.