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MILITARY

U.S. accuses Russia of sending fighter jets to Libya

By Jordi Bou

May 27, 2020 - The U.S. military has accused Russia of sending fighter jets to Libya to support Russian mercenaries, in a sign of the Pentagon’s mounting concerns about Moscow’s role in the sprawling proxy war.

The U.S. Africa Command said the war planes were expected to provide “close air support and offensive fire” for Russian mercenaries fighting alongside forces loyal to Gen Haftar.

Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army is also supported by the
United Arab Emirates and Egypt, launched his offensive to take the capital of the oil-rich North African country in April last year. But the Turkish military intervention has all but foiled the campaign over the past month.

Turkey backs the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

The UN says that the Kremlin-backed private military contractor Wagner Group has up to 1,200 people in Libya.

For Mr. Putin, Libya offers a chance to expand his footprint in the Middle East, prompting American fears that it could be the site of a permanent military presence close to the southern flanks of Europe.

PUBLISHED: 27/05/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images
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