More than 7,000 Russian Wagner mercenaries are still operating in Libya, according to the head of the country's High Council of State on Sunday, Anadolu Agency reported.
In statements on audio-chat app Clubhouse, Khalid al-Mishri said the Wagner mercenaries are armed with different types of weapons, including warplanes.
"They have 30 jet fighters in Algourbabia military base [in Sirte] and in al-Jufra base," al-Mishri said. "The Russians are looking for a foothold in North Africa and they found that in Libya."
Active in Libya since 2019, the Wagner mercenaries are a main backer of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar.
Libya is preparing to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Dec. 24 under a UN-sponsored agreement reached by Libyan political rivals during meetings in Tunisia last year.
Libyans hope that the upcoming elections will contribute to ending an armed conflict that has plagued the oil-rich country for years.