US Africa Command says 14 Russian fighter aircraft landed in Jufra airbase in May
The US Africa Command said on Twitter on Wednesday than at least 14 newly unmarked Russian aircraft were delivered to Al-Jufra airbase in Libya to support warlord Khalifa Haftar.
“Over multiple days in May, Russian MiG 29s and SU-24 fighters departed Russia. At that time, all the aircraft have Russian Federation Air Force markings. After they land at Khmeimin Air Base in Syria, the MiG 29s are repainted and emerge with no national markings,” US Africom said on Twitter.
The US Africa Command added that the warplanes were flown by Russian military members and escorted by Russian fighters based in Syria to Libya, landing in Eastern Libya near Tobruk for fuel.
“At least 14 newly unmarked Russian aircraft are then delivered to Al Jufra Air Base in Libya,” it added.
The tweet by the US Africa Command came a day after it revealed that Russia had recently deployed fighter aircraft to Libya to support Russian Wagner Group mercenaries fighting for Haftar against the UN-recognized legitimate Government of National Accord in Tripoli.
General Stephen Townsend, commander of US Africa Command, said Tuesday in a statement that Russia was clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya.
“Just like I saw them doing in Syria, they are expanding their military footprint in Africa using government-supported mercenary groups like Wagner,” he added.
“For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Well, there is no denying it now,” Townsend further explained.