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UN envoy Stephanie Williams: 20,000 foreign forces remain in Libya despite ceasefire

On Wednesday United Nations envoy Stephanie Williams stated during the latest meeting under the country’s political dialogue forum that twenty thousand foreign fighters and mercenaries are still in Libya despite a reached cease-fire and long-standing arms embargo. She stressed that the situation is a “shocking violation of Libyan sovereignty.”

Forces loyal to the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and those of putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar formally reached a cease-fire in October, as reported by dailysabah.

The agreement provides that all military units and armed groups must withdraw from the front lines. Mercenaries and foreign fighters must leave Libyan territory within 90 days.

At the virtual meeting of a political dialogue forum the United Nation’s interim Libya envoy Stephanie Williams stated that number of foreign forces and/or mercenaries is 20,000 . According to her it is a shocking violation of Libyan sovereignty.

She stressed that there are 10 military bases in Libya. They are fully or partially occupied by foreign forces.

She considers it to be a blatant violation of the arms embargo, as those occupying bases, are pouring weapons into Libya, a country which does not need more weapons.

Haftar, backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, launched an offensive on Tripoli in April 2019 but was pushed back earlier this year as pro-GNA forces received key military support from Turkey.

The latest round of the U.N.-sponsored political dialogue forum is taking place virtually. The first in-person session was in Tunis last month. At the Tunis meeting, it was agreed to hold elections on Dec. 24, 2021, but not on who would lead the political transition.

The GNA in November accused the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization backing Haftar, of preventing its delegation at the Sirte talks from landing at the nearby Qardabiya air base.

This very base is considered as a key location for long-range air defenses.

Russia’s Wagner Group is one of the most controversial mercenary groups in the world. It is owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has been indicted by the US for his role in interfering with the 2016 presidential election and who is said to have close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It is composed of former military personnel. The Wagner Group provides combat advising, foreign internal defense — the training of local forces — and direct action services. It often works in conjunction with Russian intelligence services and special-operations units.

Numerous media reports state, the Wagner Group has brought over 1,000 troops to Libya, including Russian pilots who provided training of forces loyal to Haftar. There were also reports of Russian Sukhoi-22 warplanes flying over Libya.

Libya has been wracked by violence and chaos since the toppling and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

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