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Putin “Secretly Sends Fighter Jets To Back Libyan Rebels”

The deployment was first reported by Bloomberg news terminal last week, in which it cited  at least one MiG 29, according to satellite images released by the U.S.
A senior Libyan official had said Haftar received 6 MiG 29s and two Sukhoi SU-24 jets from a Russian-controlled base in Syria

The United States on Tuesday said Russia is sending fighter jets to Libya to back up mercenaries linked to Kremlin who are assisting rebel general Khalifa Haftar to fight a UN-backed government in that country.

The head of US Africa Command, General Stephen Townsend, said Russian fighter aircrafts had first stopped in Syria to be repainted to hide their Russian origin before arriving in Libya.

“For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict … well, there is no denying it now,” General Townsend said.

He did not specify when the jets arrived. However, his statement comes a day after Libya’s UN-recognised government said hundreds of Russian mercenaries had been evacuated from combat zones south of the capital, Tripoli.

The deployment was first reported by Bloomberg news terminal last week. The agency cited at least one MiG 29, quoting satellite images released by the U.S.

A senior Libyan official also said Haftar received 6 MiG 29s and two Sukhoi SU-24 jets from a Russian-controlled base in Syria, as the commander’s forces warned of an unprecedented aerial campaign against the internationally recognized government in the capital and its Turkish backers.

Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army is also supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, launched his offensive to take the capital of the oil-rich North African country in April last year. But the Turkish military intervention has all but foiled the campaign over the past month.

Serial news reports have reported that hundreds of Russian and Syrian mercenaries supporting Haftar have withdrawn from Tripoli’s frontlines in recent days following a series of defeats at the hands of the Government of National Accord.

The reason for the redeployment wasn’t immediately clear, and Russia and Turkey have again called for a cease-fire in Libya. But the arrival of the warplanes suggests a possible renewed scramble for weapons ahead of any possible negotiations.

©East Africa Daily And Agencies