On July 24, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) shared images claiming to show Russian forces and equipment in different parts of Libya.
One of the photos shows two Russian-made Pantsir-S1 air-defense systems, two Soviet-made Su-24 warplanes and a Russian L-76 military cargo plane in al-Khadim Air Base in western Libya. The base is known to be hosting forces of the UAE, a key ally of the U.S.
“Russia continues to play an unhelpful role in Libya by delivering supplies & equipment to the Wagner group,” said Maj. Gen. Gering.
— US AFRICOM (@USAfricaCommand) July 24, 2020
The other image supposedly shows dozens of Russian private military contractors near the coastal Libyan city of Sirte. The AFRICOM didn’t reveal how it was able to identify the nationality of the personnel on the image.
“The type and volume of equipment demonstrates an intent toward sustained offensive combat action capabilities, not humanitarian relief, and indicates the Russian Ministry of Defense is supporting these operations,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, AFRICOM director of operations.
The AFRICOM has been leading a media campaign accusing Russia of intervening in Libya to support the Libyan National Army over the past few months.
Last May, the AFRICOM claimed that Russia had deployed 14 Mig-29s and Su-24s warplanes in Libya. The warplanes were supposedly flown from Russia to Syria, then to al-Khadim and al-Jufrah air bases in Libya.
These accusations against Russia may be an attempt to drive attention away from the U.S. own allies. The UAE and Egypt are supporting the LNA, while Turkey is supporting the Government of National Accord. The AFRICOM never mentioned the role that these countries are playing in Libya.
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