The Chief of the United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM) Stephen Townsend met Monday in Zuwara with the Head of the Libyan Presidential Council Fayez Al-Sarraj, Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, military commander Osama Juwiali, and thje deputy defense minister of the GNA Salah Al-Namroush in the presence of the US ambassador to Libya Richard Norland.
US Africa Command said Russia’s introduction of manned, armed attack aircraft into Libya changes the nature of the current conflict and intensifies the potential of risk to all Libyans, especially innocent civilians.
It added that Russian aircraft are being used to support private military companies (PMCs) sponsored by the Russian government.
“US Africa Command (USAFRICOM) has photographic evidence of a Russian aircraft taking off from Al-Jufra, Libya. A MiG-29 was also photographed operating in the vicinity of the city of Sirte, Libya.” A statement said on Thursday.
“Russia’s sustained involvement in Libya increases the violence and delays a political solution,” said U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Bradford Gering, USAFRICOM director of operations.
“Russia continues to push for a strategic foothold on NATO’s southern flank and this is at the expense of innocent Libyan lives.” He added.
“There is concern these Russian aircraft are being flown by inexperienced, non-state PMC mercenaries who will not adhere to international law; namely, they are not bound by the traditional laws of armed conflict,” Gering said, adding: “If this is true and bombing occurs, innocent Libyan lives are at risk.”