The US Africa Command complains that supposed ‘Russian mercenaries’ downed a US spy drone over Libya and do not want to return its vestiges to the US military.
According to the head of the Africa Command, General Stephen Townsend, the operators of the air defenses at the time “didn’t know it was a U.S. remotely piloted aircraft when they fired on it.”
“But they certainly know who it belongs to now and they are refusing to return it. They say they don’t know where it is but I am not buying it,” Townsend told Reuters.
On November 26, David Schenker, the assistant secretary for near eastern affairs at the State Department claimed that Russian troops were sent to Libya “in significant numbers” to support the Libya National Army. This alleged move, Schenker claimed, “raises the specter of large-scale casualties among the civilian population.”
The US diplomat provided no details regarding the supposed numbers of Russian troops deployment and their locations. Despite this, mainstream media outlets cover the ‘wide-scale’ Russian military presence as a confirmed fact. This can berely be confirmed by any evidence from the ground.
It should be noted that there is no secret that some Russia-linked private military contractors are operating in the country. Some limited presence of the Russian Special Forces, as special forces of any another country involved in the Big Middle East Game, is also possible.
In own turn, the US and other Western states are backing the Government of National Acrrod, which relies on various militant groups and even al-Qaeda linked radicals to combat the LNA.
In June 2019, the UAE, which backs the Libyan National Army, deployed several Russian-made Pantsir-S1 air-defense systems near al-Jufra Airbase in the central part of the country. It’s very likely that the US drone was downed by the Libyan National Army with help from some UAE-supplied weapons. Nonetheless, the US prefers to blame the Russians.