On July 8, 2020, Antonio GUTERRES the UN Secretary-General, said the conflict in Libya has entered a “new phase” due to increased foreign interference in the country.
“The conflict has entered a new phase, with foreign interference reaching unprecedented levels, including in the delivery of sophisticated equipment and the number of mercenaries involved in the fighting,” GUTERRES told in video-conference at the UN Security Council.
Libya was plunged into chaos by the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed its leader, Muammar GADDAFI.
Libya has been divided with an internationally-recognized government (GNA) controlling Tripoli, and the northwest, while the military commander Khalifa HAFTAR in Benghazi controls the east.
Wagner Group, a Russian private military contractor has more than 1200 people in Libya, strengthening HAFTAR’s forces, according to a confidential May report by independent sanctions monitors to the UNSC Libya sanctions committee.
The sanctions monitors identified more than two dozen flights between Russia and eastern Libya from August 2018 to August 2019 by civilian aircraft “strongly linked to, or owned by” the Wagner Group or other linked companies.
US Africa Command told in June that Wagner Group had deployed as many as 2.000 people in Libya.
Russia has denied many times the media reports that the Wagner Group, believed to be owned by Yevgeny PRIGOZHIN, a businessman with close links to Vladimir PUTIN, is operating in Libya. A recent UN report said the group had at least 800 military contractors on the ground.
GUTERRES denounced the situation with particular concern about military forces massing around Sirte, halfway between Tripoli in the west and Benghazi in the east.
Egypt said that any Turkish-backed effort to take Sirte could lead its army to directly intervene.
GUTERRES said: “We are very concerned about the alarming military build-up around the city, and the high level of direct foreign interference in the conflict in violation of the UN arms embargo, UNSC resolutions, and commitments made by the Member States in Berlin”.
The UN mission in Libya had documented at least 102 civilian deaths and 254 civilian injuries between April and June 2020, a 172 % increase compared with the first quarter of 2020.
There were also at least 21 attacks on medical facilities, ambulances, and medical personnel GUTERRES said.
This article was edited using the data from the Aljazeera.com, Middleeasteye.net, Middleeastmonitor.com, and Aa.com.tr.