Politics

UN concerned by US claims Russia sent jets to Libya

By AFP

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This photo taken on September 4th, 2016 in the coastal city of Misrata shows a MIG-23 fighter jet of the Libyan Air Force taking off from the Air College airbase. [Mahmud Turkia/AFP]

The UN said Wednesday (May 27th) it was "following with great concern" claims that Russia recently sent fighter jets to Libya to support Russian mercenaries fighting for strongman Khalifa Haftar in the long-running conflict.

On Tuesday, the US military command for Africa (AFRICOM) accused Moscow of deploying several MiG-29 Fulcrum jets and Su-35 Flankers in support of Haftar, who has been fighting to seize Tripoli from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) since April 2019.

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

Moscow has not reacted to the claim.

The UN Secretary General's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that, if proven, it would "constitute a flagrant violation of the arms embargo" imposed on Libya in 2011.

Without mentioning Russia, Dujarric said "reports of violations have increased significantly in the past few weeks, with reported near-daily transfers by air, land and sea".

"This increase in the violations of the arms embargo will only lead to the intensification of the fighting, which will result in devastating consequences for the Libyan people," he said.

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