The Libyan Army Sunday claimed that Russian cargo planes had made new military shipments to forces loyal to putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Gen. Abdulhadi Dirah, spokesman for the army's Sirte-Jufra Joint Operations Unit, said Ilyushin-type planes conducted five flights to Sirte and Jufra provinces on Saturday carrying ammunition, while two more flights were made carrying soldiers loyal to Syria’s Assad regime to Benghazi, Libya's second-biggest city and the central base of the Haftar's forces.
Libya has been torn apart by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The government was founded in 2015 under a United Nations-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to warlord Haftar.
Since April 2019, Haftar's forces have launched attacks on the Libyan capital of Tripoli and other parts of northwestern Libya, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths, including civilians. Haftar has the support of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Russia while the U.N.-recognized government is backed by Turkey.
The Libyan government has recently achieved significant victories against Haftar, pushing his forces out of Tripoli and the strategic city of Tarhuna.
Foreign mercenaries and arms have poured into the country since Haftar launched his offensive, with Russia and the UAE the latter's top suppliers. The U.S. military command for Africa (AFRICOM), on July 24 accused Russia of “playing an unhelpful role in Libya by delivering supplies and equipment to the Wagner group.” Priorly, in May, AFRICOM reported that at least 14 Mig-29s and Su-24s had been flown from Russia to Syria and previously provided photographic evidence that Wagner has laid landmines and improvised explosive devices in civilian areas in and around Tripoli.
However, Russian envoy to Ankara Aleksei Erkhov stated that in local conflicts, all kinds of “speculations are to be expected.”
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