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UN Concerned by Claims Russia Sent Jets to Libya

UN Concerned by Claims Russia Sent Jets to Libya

Thursday, 28 May, 2020 - 04:45
The United Nations logo is pictured in front of the United Nations Headquarters building in the Manhattan borough of New York, US, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Asharq Al-Awsat

The UN said Wednesday it was "following with great concern" claims that Russia recently sent fighter jets to Libya to back the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar.

On Tuesday, the US military command for Africa (Africom) accused Moscow of deploying several MiG-29 Fulcrum jets and Su-35 Flankers in support of Haftar, who has been fighting to seize Tripoli from Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) since April 2019.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said the Russians had sent a mix of "approximately 14 military fighters."

A senior Russian lawmaker on Wednesday strongly rejected the US military's claim.

Viktor Bondarev, the former Russian air force chief who heads the defense committee in the upper house of parliament, dismissed the claim by the US Africa Command as "stupidity."

“If the warplanes are in Libya, they are Soviet, not Russian,” he said.

But the UN Secretary General's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that, if the US claims proven, it would "constitute a flagrant violation of the arms embargo" imposed on Libya in 2011.

Without mentioning Russia, Dujarric said "reports of violations have increased significantly in the past few weeks, with reported near-daily transfers by air, land and sea."

He added: "This increase in the violations of the arms embargo will only lead to the intensification of the fighting, which will result in devastating consequences for the Libyan people."

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