Russia Conducting No Talks on Creating Military Bases in Libya

Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in international waters off the coast of Northern Norway on October 17, 2016.

Russia is not conducting talks on creating military bases in Libya, Viktor Ozerov, head of the Russian Federation Council’s defense committee, said on Sunday.

      Switzerland’s Neu Zuercher Zeitung newspaper reported citing Italian and Gulf media that Libyan General Khalifa Haftar had allegedly signed an agreement reflecting Moscow’s interest in creating bases in the cities of Tobruk and Benghazi during his visit to Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrying cruiser.

“Such talks are not being conducted,” Ozerov told Sputnik.

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Russian Defence Minister and head of the Libyan army head a videoconference discussing fighting against terrorism in the Middle East

11.01.2016  Today, Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, Commander of the Libyan national army, has visited the Admiral of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov heavy aircraft carrying cruiser. The Russian aircraft carrier has been on its way in the Russian Navy ship grouping of the Northern Fleet to the permanent location.

Vice Admiral Viktor Sokolov, leadership and crew of the ship received Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar onboard the cruiser.

After a brief excursion around the ship, the Russian Defence Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu and the head of the Libyan army head a videoconference discussing fighting against terrorism in the Middle East.

Russian party has handed medicals to Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar for Libyan military servicemen and civilians.

Boots on the Ground? US Forces Active in Libya, Fighting Near Sirte

 

United States forces are fighting on the ground in Libya, providing support for local troops battling Daesh near the city of Sirte, according to an anonymous US official. Why should US troops keep a low profile, and why does the Pentagon continue to deny their presence?

The existence of US troops fighting on Libyan ground around Sirte has been denied by the US command. Small US Special Operations groups are operating around the Libyan city of Sirte, providing intelligence information and direct support for local Libyan fighters, and coordinating US airstrikes in the region.

According to sources cited by AntiWar.com, US special ops teams are working out of a joint operations center on the city outskirts. Their role is said to currently be limited to supporting forces loyal to the country’s government.

The troops have established outposts, and built ties to various militant groups in attempts to identify potential allies, indicating that US intelligence assets, at a loss for clarity, are seeking additional information through the use of the military.

The US Special Forces are operating in a so-called low-visibility mode, to avoid being targeted as another Western intervention. Military incursions into Libya by foreign actors, notably those of the West, are highly unwelcome, both by people and the fragile government in Libya, as indicated by recent protests against French intervention in July.

Last month, French troops revealed their presence in Libya after several French soldiers were found dead near the city of Benghazi. The Libyan government demanded an official explanation from France following the incident, stating that they “completely reject this violation of Libyan soil.”

The “low visibility” mode has apparently failed Western soldiers, as some US and British forces have reportedly been spotted earlier this week in Sirte. Local armed forces officials said they identified Western military personnel carrying radios and wearing black body armor and tan uniforms. The US Department of Defense subsequently denied the involvement of US Special Forces or other military personnel in Libya.

The likelihood of a Western military presence on Libyan soil is reflected in the words of Mattia Toaldo, a Libya expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations. According to Toaldo, the US mission in Sirte is “different” from the French presence in the eastern city of Benghazi, as Libya’s rival political factions are unlikely to object to attempts to defeat Daesh.

“As long as they keep this low profile… the risks both for the US and for the Libyan government are quite low,” he suggested.

Libyan militia officials believe that the arrival of Americans and British near the front line signals preparations for a significant push into Daesh territory. The official US position says that Western involvement in the fight against Daesh-affiliated Islamic State in Libya will solidify the foundation of the current UN-backed government, following a period of political instability caused by the Western invasion of Libya and the assassination of its then-leader Moammar Gaddafi, which, according to the officials, “opened the door to the expansion of the Islamic State.”

Crash Sheds Light on Secret French, US, UK Military Meddling in Middle East

French soldiers of the Barkhane operation stand near the border with Lybia in Madama on January 1, 2015

 

By confirming the death of its three servicemen in Libya, France has admitted the presence of its special forces on the ground in the country; earlier the Pentagon also confirmed its presence on the ground in Syria. Chris Nineham from the Stop the War Coalition says that the majority of such operations are carried out without any UN authorization.

On Wednesday French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll confirmed the deaths of three French soldiers who were on an intelligence-gathering mission in Libya and died in a helicopter crash near Benghazi, thus admitting the presence of its special forces on the ground in the North African country.”The special forces are there, of course, to help ensure that France is present everywhere in the fight against terrorists,” Le Foll explained in an interview with the radio station France Info.

Reports suggest that following the Daesh takeover of Libya’s coastal city of Sirte in late 2015, the United Kingdom and Italy have also sent special forces to Libya.

The Government of National Accord (GNA), Libya’s internationally-recognized ruling coalition, condemned the French intervention in a statement released on Wednesday evening, demanding an explanation from Paris and saying that it would not compromise on Libyan sovereignty.

The statement posted on the government’s Facebook page said that “nothing justifies an intervention without our knowledge and without it being coordinated with us.”

“The Presidential Council expresses its deep discontent at the French presence in eastern Libya without coordination with the Council, which was declared by the government of France,” it stated.The Benghazi Defense Brigades, the militant group that claimed responsibility for the downing of the helicopter, said 13 of its fighters were killed in what it described as French retaliatory airstrikes in western Benghazi. France denied that its warplanes over Libya were used for any missions but reconnaissance.

US and French special forces are reportedly operating in the country, but the reports have not been officially confirmed until now.

The Middle East Eye (MEE), an online news portal which covers the events in the Middle East, has obtained air traffic control recordings which suggest that British, French, Italian and US forces have been coordinating air strikes in support of Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, head of the armed forces based in Libya’s east.

The commander, however, doesn’t officially serve the UN-recognized government and is in no position to seek military aid from foreign powers.

The leaked tapes appear to confirm earlier reports suggesting the existence of an international operations center that is helping General Khalifa Haftar in his campaign to gain control of eastern Libya from groups he has declared to be “extremists.”

Earlier in May, the Pentagon confirmed that one service member, probably a special operations soldier, was hit by “indirect fire” such as a rocket or mortar strike while operating north of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of Daesh’s self-proclaimed Islamic State.Another soldier was also hit by indirect fire outside Irbil, a city in the Iraqi region of Kurdistan.

The announcement came as the first official recognition of a US service member being wounded in Syria. However, according to publicly available data from the Pentagon, there have been 14 service members wounded in Iraq and Syria since the start of the US-led mission there in 2014.

The problem with such clandestine interventions is that they often disregard the law and have no public oversight, Stop the War Coalition’s Chris Nineham told RT.

“They are not backed by the UN, these interventions. They are not checked anywhere. They are just unilateral acts of military aggression,” he added.

Chris Nineham earlier also commented on the UK’s participation in the US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria when it was revealed after a freedom of information request by the campaign group Reprieve that around 20 British military personnel have been embedded within coalition forces in the country.

The coalition then claimed that Syria has consequently “turned out to be David Cameron’s secret war.”

Chris Nineham reiterated these concerns, and condemned “the historical instinct to dominate the Middle East which Cameron, Michael Fallon and others plainly demonstrate,” according to a statement on the Coalition’s website.

Meanwhile Pentagon keeps reiterating that its service members were not “engaged in active combat” and were behind the lines operating in advisory roles when they came under fire.

Russia Cannot Ignore Threats From Syria, Libya, Iraq – MoD

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu

 

Russia cannot ignore the terrorist threats from Syria, Libya, Iraq and other countries, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Thursday.

ASHGABAT     Earlier on Wednesday, Shoigu arrived to the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, with an official visit to discuss bilateral cooperation and issues of the international and regional security.

“We understand the today’s threats, and can’t avoid speaking of them. This is the international terrorism that worries us all, especially when we are in the regions neighboring Afghanistan. What happens today in Syria, Libya, Iraq — of course, these threats we can’t ignore. Of course, we need to pay the most serious attention to them. This is what Russia is doing,” Shoigu said during a meeting with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow.

Shoigu said that Turkmenistan was a strategic partner for Russia, especially in the areas of economy and culture, and the partnership between the countries was supported by real actions.