Russian Mercenaries Said Flown Away from Front following Haftar Retreat
In another blow to renegade general Khalifa Haftar, Russian mercenaries fighting on behalf of his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) have reportedly been flown out of Tripoli. It follows the LNA’s loss last week of its lone aerial supply route to the capital, which is the seat of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). The LNA had for 13 months been waging a campaign to retake the city, but Haftar has now withdrawn his troops from some residential areas and their surroundings. Libya has since 2014 been divided between two rival authorities in the east – which Haftar backs – and the west, which is largely controlled by forces allied with the GNA. The conflict has evolved into a proxy war, with Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates supporting the LNA, whereas Turkey has sent military reinforcements to assist the GNA. Ankara’s intervention is largely credited with having stopped Haftar’s offensive, a development that came on the backdrop of a phone call last week between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, during which they agreed to press for an immediate ceasefire. The two also backed the resumption of a UN-led peace process to reach a political solution that ends the fighting.