Foreign mercenaries fighting in Libyan renegade commander Khalifa Haftar’s ranks normally remain out of the public eye, but photos and videos they share on social media reveal their true nature.
Haftar launched a military operation in April last year in a bid to capture Libya’s capital. Since then, however, he has been unable to achieve a quick and decisive victory.
Lacking the support of Libyans, Haftar brokered agreements with various mercenaries with financial support from his regional allies.
The most prominent foreign fighters in his ranks are Chadian armed rebel groups, Sudanese “Janjaweed” militias and mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group.
Haftar is trying to hide his foreign mercenaries from the media, but posts on social media reveal their existence.
They include photos and videos of African mercenaries standing next to combat vehicles with pictures of Haftar.
One such video shows African militias in a vehicle bearing the logo of so-called Haftar forces. It attracted attention because it showed them speaking a language other than Arabic.
Sudanese in Libya
UN reports underscore that foreign mercenaries serve Haftar and that most of them are from Sudan and Chad.
In Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, protests were held last month against United Arab Emirates-based company Black Shield Security Services, which reportedly tricked Sudanese youngsters with the promise of working as private security guards in the UAE but instead sent them to military camps in Libya and Yemen. The company denied the claim in a written statement.
Mercenaries of Kremlin ‘Chef’
Russia’s Wagner Group is one of the most controversial groups among the mercenaries. It is believed to be owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is also known as “Putin’s chef” because he serves the Kremlin through his catering company.
According to Bloomberg, the number of mercenaries from the Wagner Group who arrived at a forward base in Libya in the first week of September last year had risen to 1,400 while 25 Russian pilots, trainers and support crew had been deployed and Russian Sukhoi-22 warplanes were seen in Libyan skies. However, no footage of the armed group has surfaced on social media so far.
Mercenaries with field experience in Ukraine are also fighting on the frontlines in Libya, according to Euronews.
Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) announced in October that 35 Wagner mercenaries linked to forces loyal to Haftar were killed.[“source=aa”]