The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) believes more than a dozen Russian aircraft, first reported to have been deployed to Libya in May, are being flown by Wagner paramilitary pilots.
In a statement on Friday, AFRICOM officials said two Russian fighter jets have crashed in Libya since being deployed to country’s war on the side of warlord Khalifa Haftar earlier this year.
It is not clear whether the two MiG-29s were shot down, suffered mechanical failure or crashed because of pilot error, Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, director of intelligence for US Africa Command, told reporters by phone today. The first MiG crashed June 28, the other on Monday.
In May, the US military released aerial imagery showing MiG-29 and Su-24 aircraft on the ground in Libya, raising concern that the Kremlin was trying to “tip the scales” on behalf of Haftar in his fight against the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli.
AFRICOM said at the time that the fighter jets had been flown from Russia to Syria, where they were repainted before continuing on to Libya.