The U.S. military has accused Russia of supplying more offensive weapons and fighters to Libya in an attempt gain a foothold in the North African country.
U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) latest accusation against Russia on July 24 comes as Libya’s rival camps face off in a potentially bloody battle over the strategic central coastal city of Sirte.
The Pentagon released photos it said showed Russia continues to provide supplies and equipment to the Vagner group, a Russian private military company.
It said Russian military cargo aircraft are supplying Vagner fighters and their proxies with air-defense equipment, trucks, armored vehicles, and fighter jets.
“The type and volume of equipment demonstrates an intent toward sustained offensive combat action capabilities, not humanitarian relief, and indicates the Russian Ministry of Defense is supporting these operations,” General Gregory Hadfield, AFRICOM deputy director of intelligence, said in a statement.
The U.S. military has previously accused Moscow of deploying fighter jets to Libya and earlier this month said the Vagner Group had laid land mines and improvised explosive devices in and around the capital, Tripoli.
Russia is using the Vagner group “as a proxy in Libya to establish a long-term presence on the Mediterranean Sea,” AFRICOM said.
Russia, mostly through the Vagner Group, has been helping Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east of the country in their fight against the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli. France, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates also