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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Russia moving special forces into Libya

U.S., Egyptian and diplomatic sources say that Russia has apparently been moving special forces to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya in recent days, according to a report by Reuters.

The U.S. is concerned that such a Russian deployment may signify Russian support for Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar, who suffered a setback on March 3 when the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB) attacked oil ports controlled by his forces.

U.S. officials claimed that their surveillance units had observed Russian special operations forces and unmanned aircraft at Sidi Barrani, which is about 100 km from the Egypt-Libya border. The apparent Russian deployments have not been previously reported.

The Russian defense ministry did not respond to these claims on Monday and Egypt denied the presence of any Russian contingent on its soil.

Mohamed Manfour, commander of the Benina air base near Benghazi in Libya, denied that Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) had received military assistance from the Russian state or from Russian military contractors, and said there were no Russian forces or bases in eastern Libya. READ MORE