By | Rachel Brooks
Staff | Telegraph Local
Above, Al Jazeera broadcast captures the scene on the ground in Libya over the past two days.
Russian “camouflaged” fighter jets have deployed to Libya to back rebel airstrikes on the capital. Fox News reported this within the last 24 hours from their Africa desk. Fox cited the U.S. Military as the source. The U.S. Military made announcements on Tuesday which stated that Russia had lended fighter jet presence to lend support to Moscow’s private military contractors in the region. The jets have deployed to provide an assist to the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli. The aircraft departed from a Russian airbase to another airbase in Syria and from Syria to Libya. This is citing a statement from the U.S. Africa command center.
Fox News cited U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, the commander of U.S. Africa Command as their source regarding the Russian stance in Libya.
“Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya. Just like I saw them doing in Syria, they are expanding their military footprint in Africa using government-supported mercenary groups like Wagner. For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Well, there is no denying it now,” said Townsend, as quoted by Fox.
Townsend took a moment to enunciate the hands-on support Russia is providing Libya in the midst of its civil conflict. The Moscow Times also reported that Libya’s unity government stated that Russian mercenaries are evacuating. These mercenaries fight on the behalf of Haftar and are being systematically evacuated from Tripoli. The Moscow Times reported that the shadowy Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary outfit, had appeared to have sent fighters back into Libya. The Wagner Group are seen as close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. This would corroborate other facts that state the Russian interests in Libya trend toward pro-rebellion.
“We watched as Russia flew fourth-generation jet fighters to Libya — every step of the way. Neither the LNA nor private military companies can arm, operate, and sustain these fighters without state support — support they are getting from Russia,” said Townsend, as he was further quoted by Fox News.
Russia has closed in on the region as Haftar’s forces push toward the center of Libya’s capital city. This was reported by the Associated Press and shared with Fox News on May 27, 2019.
As the Russian planes arrived in Libya, Foreign Policy reported that the Pentagon has escalated rhetoric in Libya. U.S. Africa Command has criticisms for the Russian involvement in the Libyan conflict. The U.S. Africa Command has alleged that Russia has “tipped the scales” in a conflict that U.S. President Donald Trump sought for a while to avoid U.S. involvement with. Foreign Policy reported this on May 26.
Foreign Policy reported that President Trump signaled his approval of Haftar’s rebellion as of last year. This has been reported by Bloomberg on April 24, 2019. Bloomberg likewise reported then that President Trump spoke with Haftar before his 2019 offensive. Foreign Policy reported that later, at the pleading of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Trump administration snubbed Haftar_ a former CIA asset. The Guardian reported last year that al-Sisi’s entreaty caused the U.S. to reconsider its policy toward the civil war in Libya. Pro-Haftar sentiment was entrenched then in Trump’s administration, yet the U.S. reconsidered its position.
The Financial Times reports that UN experts are investigating the Russian dispatch to Libya. It is not clear if the U.S. and Russia could engage in any political tensions created by the apparently conflicted interests in this region.