US Military Is Angry At Russia For Supporting Libyan Rebels, Escalating Tensions
The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) is angry at Russian interference in the Libyan Civil War, releasing a statement Tuesday calling out Russia for supporting the rebel group Libyan National Army (LNA) against the internationally recognized Libyan government.
AFRICOM concluded that Russia deployed MiG-29 fighter jets to a military base in Libya that is controlled by the LNA and Russian-backed private military contractor Wagner Group, according to The Hill. The AFRICOM statement further noted that Russia has used Wagner Group as a proxy to hide its own involvement in the civil war, and that further Russian involvement would prolong the conflict and increase casualties.
NEWS: Russia deploys military fighter aircraft to Libya
“For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Well, there is no denying it now.” – Gen. Townsend
Photos: https://t.co/raTal1LKPa pic.twitter.com/dVtsWKPYZ5
— US AFRICOM (@USAfricaCommand) May 26, 2020
The Libyan Civil War has escalated in recent years because of growing hostility between the various factions involved, and rogue military commander Khalifa Haftar’s rise to power in the LNA has posed a serious challenge to the internationally recognized Government of National Accord.
The civil war has also turned into a proxy conflict involving regional and global powers. The LNA is directly backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and indirectly by Russia, while the Government of National Accord has the support of NATO and the United Nations. The conflict has previously been exploited by terrorist groups like ISIS in order to establish bases of operation in Libya. (RELATED: 3,000 Camels Evacuated Due To Artillery Fire In Libya)
Although Russia has denied its involvement in the conflict, satellite images confirmed that the country is supporting mercenary groups and the LNA. AFRICOM commander Army Gen. Stephen Townsend added that “Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya” and that the deployment of fighter jets is proof of its involvement. “Well, there is no denying it now. We watched as Russia flew fourth generation jet fighters to Libya,” Townsend said.
AFRICOM also expressed concern that Russia’s destabilizing actions in Libya could worsen regional instability and have an adverse effect on the migration crisis as the number of Libyan refugees fleeing to Europe increases.