USA accuses Russian Federation of deploying fighter jets in Libya

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U.S. Africa Command assesses that Moscow recently deployed military fighter aircraft to Libya in order to support Russian state-sponsored private military contractors (PMCs) operating on the ground there.

The warplanes left Russia and first stopped in Syria, where they "were repainted to camouflage their Russian origin" before arriving in Libya, said the U.S. military command for Africa (Africom) in a statement.

Noteworthy, along with the satellite shot, AFRICOM has also released a series of photographs and stills of Russian fighter jets, including MiG-29s, Su-34s and Su-35s, shot by spyplanes or drones' EO/IR sensors or targeting pods.

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In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said that the Russians had sent a mix of "approximately 14 military fighters".

The Tripoli-based Government of National Unity last week said it had intelligence that "several" Russian jets had been deployed to the country from Libya, though it was not clear whether they were piloted by Russians.

Russian Federation and Turkey - a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member which has openly backed the GNA and sent regular troops to Tripoli earlier this year - have organized a series of negotiations between Haftar and the Tripoli government earlier this year, but the GNA refused to meet with the LNA leader directly.

The Kremlin has always denied involvement in the conflict.

There was no immediate response from the Russian Defence Ministry to a request for comment.

Lavrov conveyed that message to Aguila Saleh Issa, speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives, in a phone call, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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"We have asked for all parties that are operating, that´s the Russians and the Turks and others, to cease their behavior there".

Townsend's remarks are in all probability essentially the most express but from the U.S. about Russian authorities involvement in Libya. Of their number, it is far more important for Haftar, tens of thousands of mercenaries from Chad and Sudan are, however, as Reports from the United Nations about violations of the UN arms embargo shows.

Townsend said Russian Federation has long denied the extent of its involvement in the Libyan conflict.

"Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya", he said.

Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, a new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political deal.

Rival administrations and militias have been vying for power ever since.

Last week Haftar's forces announced they would be launching a major new air campaign against the GNA and said it had refurbished four war jets.

"Russia is not interested in what is best for the Libyan people but are working to achieve their own strategic goals instead", is yet another "assessment" from Tuesday's statement by AFRICOM, which goes on to claim that "destabilizing actions" by Russian Federation in Libya would make worse the "migration crisis affecting Europe".

The aircraft are likely to provide close air support and offensive strikes for the Wagner Group - Russian mercenaries supporting Hifter's forces, AFRICOM said.

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