US Calls for Immediate Withdrawal of Russian, Turkish Forces from Libya

The US has called for the immediate withdrawal of Russian and Turkish forces from Libya after a United Nations-mandated deadline for them to leave was left unanswered.

Under a UN brokered ceasefire signed in October last year, foreign troops and mercenaries were mandated to pull out of Libya within three months.

That deadline passed on Saturday with no movement to leave announced or observed on the ground.

“We call on all external parties, to include Russia, Turkey and the UAE, to respect Libyan sovereignty and immediately cease all military intervention in Libya,” Richard Mills, acting US ambassador to the UN, said on Thursday during a UN Security Council meeting on Libya.

Since the 2011 NATO backed uprising that overthrew and later killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has been in turmoil, split between rival administrations in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias and foreign powers.

Turkey is the main patron of the UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, while the UAE, Russia and Egypt back the forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter who runs most of the east and the south.

The UN estimates there are about 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries helping the opposing sides in Libya: The UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar in the east.

Turkey backs the GNA. It also has a military base in Al-Watiya on the border with Tunisia under a 2019 military accord.

Last December, Ankara extended by 18 months its authorisation for Turkey’s troop deployment in Libya, in apparent disregard of the ceasefire deal.

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