Hundreds of Russian mercenaries fighting alongside Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces have evacuated the front lines of Tripoli. Several sources have confirmed their evacuation to the town of Bani Walid, 170 km south-east of the Libyan capital, from where they are said to have been transferred to the Jufra base, controlled by pro-Haftar forces, in the center of the country. . In a video broadcast by Tripoli-based Libya al-Ahrar television, we can see armed men boarding a military cargo plane resembling an Antonov 32 and a Russian type anti-aircraft defense system Pantsir on the airport tarmac.
GNA forces reap success
The forces of the government of national unity (GNA) supported by Turkey and reinforced by Syrian mercenaries, recruited and trained by Ankara, reap successes for several weeks. Several coastal towns west of Tripoli came under their control, as did the Al-Watiya air base, 140 km southwest of Tripoli and, more recently, three military camps south of the capital. “The evacuation of Russian mercenaries reflects a one-off adjustment between Moscow and Ankara” analyzes Jalel Harchaoui, researcher at the Clingendael Institute and specialist in Libya. “The Wagner group is reducing its offensive posture south of Tripoli and strengthening the defenses of Jufra and Sirte”.
The United Arab Emirates does not give up
The drones and air defense provided by Ankara have given the GNA forces an important advantage over their adversaries. The main supporter of Marshal Haftar, the United Arab Emirates did not give up. Replenishment of arms and ammunition by air continues at eastern Libyan airports.
War in the shadow of the coronavirus in Libya
According to a confidential UN report, quoted by the New York Times, a network of companies based in the Emirates financed, in June 2019, the deployment in Benghazi of a commando of 20 mercenaries, twelve South Africans, five British, two Australians and one American. The task of the detachment is said to have been to create a naval combat force equipped with speedboats and combat helicopters to prevent the delivery of arms from Turkey to the Tripoli government by sea. In early July 2019, the commando finally turned back towards Malta, following a disagreement with Marshal Haftar on the quality of the helicopters intended to equip the force.