Cairo: The United States military has said Russia appears to be sending more military equipment to its mercenaries in Libya, including in the flashpoint city of Sirte, in breach of an arms embargo.
The US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) said on Friday there was mounting evidence from satellite photos of Moscow’s military cargo planes, including IL-6s, bringing supplies to fighters from Russian private military contractor Wagner Group.
“Imagery reflects the broad scope of Russian involvement,” US Army Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, AFRICOM deputy director of intelligence, said in a statement posted on the military command’s website.
“They continue to look to attempt to gain a foothold in Libya.
“Russian air defense equipment, including SA-22s, are present in Libya and operated by Russia, the Wagner Group or their proxies. Photos also show Wagner utility trucks and Russian mine-resistant, ambush protected armored vehicles are also present in Libya … the type and volume of equipment demonstrate an intent toward sustained offensive combat action capabilities.”
Libya was plunged into chaos by the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed its longtime leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
The oil-rich country has since been divided, with an internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) controlling the capital, Tripoli, and the northwest, while renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in Benghazi control the east.