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Libya accuses Russia’s Wagner of using chemical weapon

April 22, 2020 at 10:51 pm

Libyan Army forces wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus (COVID-19) as they attend “Operation Peace Storm” of the Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) against the forces of warlord Khalifa Haftar in Tripoli, Libya on 25 March 2020. [Amru Salahuddien – Anadolu Agency]

Russian private military contractor Wagner was accused by Libya’s interior minister on Wednesday of carrying out a chemical attack in Libya.

Wagner mercenaries used nerve agent against Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) forces in Salah al-Din area in southern Tripoli, Fathi Bashagha told reporters.

“We are in a strong cooperation with Turkey, US and UK to ensure security in Libya,” Bashagha said.

The minister added that Tunisia and Algeria are also giving support to the country in issues of security.

Wagner Group

Russia’s Wagner Group is one of the most controversial groups among the mercenaries. It is owned by to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to Bloomberg, it was reported that the Wagner Group, where over 1,000 militias came to Libya, brought Russian pilots who carried out training activities for the Haftar troops, and Russian Sukhoi-22 type war planes are seen in Libyan skies.

Mercenaries who previously had field experience in Ukraine, are fighting on the front-line in Libya, according to Euronews.

On Jan. 11, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said that more than 2,000 Wagner mercenaries were currently fighting in Libya.

President Vladimir Putin, asked about Russia’s involvement in the Libyan conflict, replied that no Russian servicemen were in Libya acting on behalf of the Russian state or receiving payment from Russia.

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) poses a threat to Libya’s national security, Bashagha said, adding that the Arab country wants to continue the chaotic atmosphere in Libya.

Since the ouster of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Haftar in eastern Libya, supported by Egypt and the UAE, and the GNA in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.

The GNA has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since last April, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence. The Tripoli government launched Operation Peace Storm on March 25 to counter attacks on the capital.