The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Russia of managing the war on Libya at the highest level.
According to the Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, Erdogan said Moscow is backing Khalifa Haftar via Wagner Group, expressing bewilderment at the fact that western countries are still backing Haftar up with arms, ammunition and money.
Meanwhile, Erdogan confirmed that Ankara is still supporting the Government of National Accord in Libya as per the signed MoUs between the two countries in November 2019.
A report by the inspectors general of the US Department of State and the Pentagon on the situation in North and West Africa for the period from October to the end of December 2019 said the Russian presence in Libya is growing and is a challenge to the United States counter-terrorism operations.
“Russian mercenaries, better known as PMCs Wagner, increased their presence by an additional 600-1200 people in Libya.” The report reveals.
According to US officials, as early as September there were only about 200 fighters of Russian Wagner Group in Libya.
The report said that Russian forces allegedly could have been involved in the disappearance at the end of November 2019 of an American drone in the sky above Tripoli.
“The US armed forces conduct counter-terrorism operations outside of Libya in coordination with the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA)”. The report says.
Russian Radio “Liberty” confirmed that a Russian mercenary fighter was killed on January 27 in Libya as he was fighting for Haftar’s militias.
The 39-year-old marine, Vladimir Skopinov, who different Russian media posts he was working for Wagner Group as a mercenary fighter in Libya and before that in eastern Ukraine in Donbass, was the second Russian to be killed in Libya.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported in last September that Russian mercenaries from Wagner Group were fighting for Haftar in Tripoli as many media outlets said their numbers varied and the number of their deaths amounted to between 10 and 30.
While Le Monde said a couple of weeks ago that Saudi Arabia had funded the mercenary operations of Russian Wagner Group in support of Haftar in Libya.
The French paper added in a report made by correspondents from Russia and Turkey that between 300 and 2000 Russian mercenaries had played a pivotal role in the attacks waged by Haftar’s militias on Tripoli in late 2019, adding that 30 of them were killed.
In December 2019, pro-Haftar pilot Amer Al-Jagam, who had been detained by forces under the command of the Government of National Accord as his warplane was downed in southern Al-Zawiya, said Russian Wagner Group mercenaries are working in coordination with the Tarhouna Operations Room.
“One group of the Russian is responsible for mortar rockets, another is responsible for howitzer rockers, and yet a third group is made of snipers.” Al-Jagam added.
He revealed that there are two air-defense and electronic warfare systems in Tarhouna city operated by Russians, adding that there is a group of French experts working on logistical support, surveillance and wiretapping.