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US calls on Turkey, Russia to withdraw forces from Libya

A Turkish military de-miner searches for landmines in the Salah al-Din area, south of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on June 15, 2020 [MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images]
A Turkish military de-miner searches for landmines in the Salah al-Din area, south of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on June 15, 2020 [MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images]

The United States has called on Russian and Turkish military forces to immediately withdraw from Libya, following their neglect of a previous deadline for them to leave.

Under the UN-backed ceasefire agreed upon by the Libyan government and the forces of renegade Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in October last year, all foreign troops and mercenaries were ordered to withdraw from the country within three months.

That deadline ended on Saturday, with neither Turkey, which supports the internationally recognised government, pulling out its military nor Russia, which backs Haftar, pulling out its mercenaries from the country.

In a UN Security Council meeting yesterday, acting US Ambassador Richard Mills said: "We call on all external parties, to include Russia, Turkey, and the UAE, to respect Libyan sovereignty and immediately cease all military intervention in Libya."

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Mills stressed that in accordance with the ceasefire agreement, "we call on Turkey and Russia to immediately initiate the withdrawal of their forces from the country and the removal of the foreign mercenaries and military proxies that they have recruited, financed, deployed and supported in Libya."

Much of the foreign militaries in Libya are centred around the areas south of the capital Tripoli where Turkish forces are based, and around the key cities of Sirte and Jufra where Russian mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group have been digging huge trenches across the country, in a move, many see as their plan to remain.

In December, Ankara approved plans to extend its military presence and assistance in Libya by a further 18 months.

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