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Home / World / Russian-backed mercenaries dig a solid trench in Libya, sparking US concerns about the Kremlin’s motives

Russian-backed mercenaries dig a solid trench in Libya, sparking US concerns about the Kremlin’s motives

US officials are also concerned about the long-term goals of the war-torn Kremlin allies. An intelligence official pointed out that this war shows that Wagner is “settled for a long time” and that Wagner has the largest global influence in Libya.

Extending dozens of kilometers south from the densely populated coastal area of ​​Sirte, to the Al-Jufra base camp controlled by Wagner, the trench can be seen from satellite images and is supported by a series of well-fortified fortifications.

CNN has contacted the Russian government for comments, but has not received any response.

According to United Nations data, the recent conflict has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people and destroyed a Mediterranean country that is rich in oil resources and is strategically vital.October The peace agreement facilitated by the United Nations is designed to allow all foreign forces to leave the country by January 23. This is one of many confidence-building measures.

The trenches and fortifications appear to be designed to prevent or stop land attacks on the eastern control area of ​​the LNA, which cuts through the densely populated coastal area of ​​Libya, which has occurred since the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011 The biggest conflict.

GNA released images of excavators and trucks that formed ditches and berms alongside them, saying that the work did not begin until this month.

U.S. intelligence officials said that this trench is “another reason why we don’t see the Turkish or Russian forces not intending or taking any action to comply with the UN brokerage agreement. This could disrupt the already fragile peace process and cease fire. It will It will be a very difficult year.”

The United States once again accused Russia of sending arms and mercenaries to Libya

Open source surveillance said it has mapped a series of more than 30 defensive positions dug in the desert and mountain slopes, which stretch for about 70 kilometers.

Satellite images from Maxar appear to show both a trench extending along the main road and fortifications dug by Wagner mercenaries and their contractors.

The image shows the fortifications around Jufra Air Force Base and the Brak Airport further south, where obvious radar defenses have been installed and strengthened.

GNA Defense Minister Salaheddin Al-Namroush told CNN: “I don’t think anyone is digging trenches and making reinforcements today, and they will leave soon.”

Claudia Gazzini from the International Crisis Group told CNN that the gap was “really worrying,” and the argument about it “has been circulating among diplomats in the past few weeks. This This situation is continuing, which shows that Moscow is eager to consolidate its presence within Libya.”

Analysts said that the Kremlin is keen to expand its military presence and influence along the Mediterranean in the southern ribs of NATO, and to increase the benefits of participating in and profiting from the Libyan oil industry.

A series of elaborate fortifications provided support for the trench.
This battle was dug by Wagner, a mercenary backed by Russia.

Gazzini added that there have been repeated reports that the two sides continue to maintain and establish foreign mercenaries. According to a public agreement with Turkey, the National Army has also been accused of increasing the supply of military equipment to support its armed forces.

US intelligence officials say that the number of mercenaries in both the National Army and the National Army is relatively stable: According to a September AFRICOM report on this issue, there are currently an estimated 10,000 in Libya.

US officials say that Libya has deployed approximately 2,000 Wagner foreign mercenaries-believed to be mainly Russians or former Soviet nationals-the largest private military company in the world.

Major General Khaled al-Mahjoub, a spokesperson for the LNA, confirmed the existence of the war presence to CNN, but described it as a “temporary” sand wall and war es that “an open area…used for defense and combat.” He denied the existence of 2,000 Wagner mercenaries and said that “a consultant was announced a long time ago.”

However, CNN described the Wagner fighter as an “effective force multiplier” in a confidential UN report released in June.

Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that there are no Russians in Libya, but if there are, they do not represent Russia. Russia has always denied that it uses mercenaries to fight for it.

In the summer of 2020, photos of the trench dug between Sirte and Jufra surfaced.

Despite the arms embargo, United Nations inspectors have recorded dozens of Russian flights to Libya throughout 2020.

The U.S. Africa Command has publicly called on Russia to expand, saying it is similar to its operations in Syria.

In June, Viktor Bondarev, head of the Defense Committee of the Upper House of the Russian Parliament, said that the US claims were “stupid” and suggested that they were old Soviet aircraft from other parts of Africa.

A Western diplomat who understands the situation of weapons entering Libya said that Russian flights into the country have dropped from a peak of 93 in August to more than 12 per month at the end of 2020. “They are only maintained on the ground,” he said. Said, and added that Turkey is flying a similar amount.

The Turkish military hopes to exist forever, openly welcomes this, and conducted “basic defense training” to the GNA in the past week and posted photos of its military.

US officials said: “This is a comprehensive effort.” “They are building facilities, bringing in personnel and equipment. They have HAWK air defense missile batteries, 3D [KALAKAN] radar. ”

The satellite image of the port of al-Khoms has been slightly modified, indicating that it may be prepared for the long-term presence of the Turkish navy, but GNA al-Namroush denied this claim.

Senior Turkish security officials told CNN that they “continue to provide military training, cooperation and advice in accordance with the needs and requirements of the GNA.”

By January 2021, more trench excavations on the road connecting Sirte and Jufra were captured by cameras.

US intelligence officials revealed that thousands of Syrian mercenaries supported by Turkey flying into Libya have also been used elsewhere. U.S. officials say that during Turkey’s support of the Azerbaijani government during the recent conflict with Armenia, the aircraft transported hundreds of Syrian mercenaries to Azerbaijan to assist the Turkish allied forces in the war with Armenia.

“There are indeed some Syrian mercenaries moving in the direction of the conflict. [Nagorno Karabakh]. The number is small, and the number is hundreds less. “The official added.

Analysts say that the Wagner force, backed by Russia, aims to provide Moscow with influence but is not responsible. Jalel Harchaoui, a senior global researcher at the Global Initiative to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, said that Wagner mercenaries are “disposable by definition” and “according to Russian officials, such power does not exist. “It means it is not terrible, terrible and quite effective,” but it provides the Kremlin with maximum flexibility.

Gazzini added: “Russia’s policy towards Libya is opaque and Russia wants to do it. Judging from the evidence on the ground, they seem to want to consolidate their influence or find a way out.”

The US military accuses Russia of deploying fighter jets to Libya

However, US officials added that Russia’s staffing and advanced equipment have increased, but this has raised moral concerns. The official said: “The fourth-generation fighter and the Panzier missile system are operated by weaker, well-trained Wagner mercenaries.”

“In Libya, al Qaeda and the Islamic State are facing complex challenges, and the level of training of mercenaries, lack of experience, and disrespect for human rights and international law make these weapon systems the most worrying among these people. “

Analysts said that Wagner’s existence and gap seemed to have brought benefits to the head of LNA, General Haftar, but the Russian presence seemed more suitable for Moscow’s agenda than Haftar’s support.

Western diplomats say Haftar needs to continue to clash in Libya to remain relevant. The diplomat said: “If the conflict is over, he will become irrelevant overnight.” “And if it is not done on his terms, he will be vulnerable to war crime charges and so on.”

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