Two Sudanese men are on trial for attempting to send some 1,000 young men to fight for Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, the Sudanese newspaper Attention has reported. One of the men who appeared at the Darfur Grand Court of Justice reportedly belongs to a prominent tribe in the country. A date has been set for the trial to continue.
The case initially arose in February when the Sudanese authorities arrested a group of smugglers and found them to have signed an agreement with a Libyan tribe loyal to Haftar. Under the deal, the general’s forces would train and arm the foreign fighters, while the Sudanese counterparts would receive money in Libyan currency for the men they transferred.
This is not the first time that Haftar has apparently had help from foreign militants; in February a video emerged showing what looked like Egyptian soldiers desecrating corpses of fighters from the Derna Protection Force (DPF) under the wreckage of a building apparently hit by air strikes. Whilst it is not known for certain if those soldiers were Egyptians or a group of mercenaries, Haftar’s Libyan National Army is known to have hired rebels from Chad to help consolidate his control over the country.
Last week, the general’s Benghazi-based Interim Government announced the start of an assault on regions in the west of the country, including Tripoli, despite warnings from the international community that the attack could plunge Libya even deeper into civil war. The Head of the Presidential Council, Fayez Al-Sarraj, launched Operation Volcano of Rage to repel Haftar’s assault, with the two forces battling for control over Tripoli International Airport.
At least 32 people have been killed and 50 injured since Haftar launched his “Flood of Dignity” campaign last week, according to the latest update issued by the Ministry of Health.
The controversial Libyan general has been backed by Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel, prompting growing outrage from Tripoli. On Friday, Libyan Brigadier General Mohammad Al-Qunidi, the government’s chief of military intelligence, said that Haftar was attacking the capital with Egyptian, Emirati and Saudi arms.
France has also controversially backed Haftar; on Sunday it was reported that Al-Sarraj had officially asked the French ambassador to Libya to convey his protest to President Emmanuel Macron, stating that the bias contradicted previous efforts to support the country’s political transition. However, earlier today Macron reportedly called Al-Sarraj to deny any connection between Paris and the current Interim Government campaign. The French President condemned the assault, demanding an immediate halt to the fighting.