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Updated May 29, 2020
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AFRICOM shared satellite photos of Russian fighter aircraft that had arrived in Libya from an air base in Russia via Syria. (Photo from Twitter: @USAfricaCommand)

The US Army Africa Command (AFRICOM) released a press statement on May 26 saying Russia recently deployed military aircraft to Libya to support private military contractors there fighting on the side of Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) against the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

 

They had been flown from Russia to Syria, where they were repainted to camouflage their origin

 

In a series of tweets, the US military said fourteen fighter planes had been delivered to Al-Jufra Air Base in central Libya, including MiG-29 and Su-24 fighter aircraft. They had been flown from Russia to Syria, where they were repainted to camouflage their origin, before flying to Libya.

Included in the statement were a series of satellite images allegedly showing Russian aircraft taxied at the Syrian base in question before flying to Libya. American foreign policy analysts have speculated that this rare public statement from AFRICOM is an effort by the Pentagon to cajole the Trump administration to take a more assertive role in the Libyan conflict, one that Donald Trump has largely tried to avoid.

The announcement comes right before Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov spoke with Aguila Saleh Issa, speaker for the Tobruk-based House of Representatives and a close ally of Haftar, indicating the Russian government’s support for an immediate ceasefire.

 

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