The US State Department said it would back Libya's internationally recognised Tripoli government against efforts by Russia to exploit the ongoing conflict.
“The U.S. delegation... underscored support for Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s attempts to exploit the conflict against the will of the Libyan people". This was the strongest American warning yet since the LNA's April offensive on Tripoli began and Russia began sending mercenaries to help Haftar's efforts.
New estimates place the number of Russian mercenaries directly involved in combat roles at over 1400 troops - including in infantry, artillery and air support roles. One Western official estimated that there were 25 air force troops, including pilots and support crew, while other sources said the pilots were flying Sukhoi-22 jets belonging to the LNA. Russia denies it had mercenaries in Libya.
US policy ha been unclear on Libya. While the State Department backs the UN recognised Tripoli government and called for a cease-fire, President Trump personally indicated support for General Haftar earlier this year. However, the launching of the US-Libya Security Dialogue with the GNA made clearer Washington's position.
According to a Libya expert at the Middle East Institute, this is more of a reaction to Russia's presence than it is support for the GNA.
A joint statement put out by the US government and Libyan Government of National Accord launched a US -Libya Security Dialogue in Washington DC earlier this week (Nov. 14). The US called on the Libyan National Army to end its offensive on Tripoli and said the new cooperation platform is intended to help prevent "undue foreign interference, reinforce legitimate state authority and address the issues underlying the conflict."
The US delegation also underscored support for Libya's sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian attempts to exploit the conflict for its own purposes.
Following the leaked secret cooperation agreement between Malta and Libya, reported here on our site, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne told the press that Malta is willing to join other EU countries to help Libya solve its "internal problems". Fearne, however, avoided giving more details on the leaked cooperation agreement.
The remarks reflect Malta's minister for foreign affairs, who when speaking at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, said Malta would continue supporting the UN-led process to bring stability to Libya.
New updates released on the UN investigation into sanctions and arms embargo violations by foreign parties in the Libyan armed conflict. According to al-Jazeera, which obtained a draft copy, states violating the arms embargo include the UAE, Sudan, Turkey and Jordan.
The report, presented by the Panel of Experts of the International Sanctions Committee on Libya also said that Sudan was sending in forces, 1000 Sudanese Rapid Support Forces, to back Khalifa Haftar's LNA. Sources quoted said that the Sudanese were stationed in al-Jufra, in southern Libya.
This is the first time the international community called attention to Sudan's role in the Libyan conflict.
Libya's National Safety Department signed a memorandum of understanding with the French Ministry of the Interior while the delegations attended the Libyan-French Civil Defense Forum this weekend (9 November), which took place in Tunisia.
The agreement included cooperation in training firefighters, civil safety, rescue personnel and other security related fields. The ceremony was attended by Libyan (GNA) Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha and the French Ambassador to Tripoli, Beatrice de Helen. Several French security companies were also reported to be at the forum, according to Libyan government sources.
Additional information was revealed from the UN investigation into the July airstrike that killed 53 migrants and injured 130 at a migrant detention centre near Tripoli. The report given to the Security Council noted the attack was likely carried out by a Mirage 2000-9 fighter, blaming the strike on the United Arab Emirates. That is, since the LNA does not operate such aircraft, only the UAE and Egypt.
The report is highly critical of a series of violations of the UNSC resolution on Libya and accuses the UAE, Jordan and Turkey of fuelling the conflict by "routinely and blatantly" breaking the arms embargo.
The report is expected to be published in mid December.
The UAE may be responsible for a July airstrike on the Tajoura migrant detention centre, east of Tripoli, in which 53 migrants were killed and 130 more injured, according to a UN investigation. The strike may be considered a war crime, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The incident is being investigated by the UN, and a confidential copy was obtained by BBC Arabic. The UN mission to Libya reported that it shared the coordinates with all migrant centres with both the GNA and LNA to prevent them from being targeted in the fighting.
The incident is the most deadly airstrike since fighting renewed in April. The report includes evidence of Mirage fighters operating from two airbases in Libya at the time. Both the UAE and Egypt have Mirage fighters operating involved in the fighting, backing Haftar's LNA forces. Both the UAE and Egypt preferred not to comment to the BBC at this time.
The US ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, announced the United States was ready to fully support political dialogue between the two sides to end the conflict.
Norland emphasised the ongoing fighting distracted from the more important goal of fighting terrorist elements and allowing for renewed economic development.
The ambassador issued these remarks at a meeting with GNA prime minister al-Sarraj in London earlier this week. Norland further called on all "external state actors and mercenaries" to cease their involvement.
The Washington Post takes a crack at exposing the involvement of Russian mercenaries fighting for Haftar's LNA forces. Better armed and trained than local forces, the Post claims these mercenaries are "introducing new tactics and firepower on the battlefield, threatening to prolong the most violent conflict..." in Libya since the Arab Spring.
While many countries are involved, including the UAE, Egypt and Turkey, Russian involvement "has altered the battlefield" according to a GNA commander.
It only makes sense Russia would seek to intervene - as the article describes Russian military and infrastructure agreements from Qaddafi's time worth over $4 billion as well as Libya's significant energy reserves which Russia seeks to profit from.
While earlier estimates placed the number of Russian mercenaries at around 300, new information suggests thousands of Russians on the ground arriving since September. These forces are not just support troops like in the past but are on the front lines - providing tactical support - especially sniper and artillery expertise the LNA lacks. The Russians are generally much better disciplined fighters than the local forces, and therefore more efficient. This efficiency is noticed by area doctors treating far more head and chest wounds than before, attributed to the Russians' accuracy.
Libya's Supreme Council of State called on the Tripoli-based GNA, which is recognised by the international community, to boycott and sue those foreign powers supporting Haftar's forces.
The advisory group called for "mobilizing all efforts with a view of thwarting the aggression" against the GNA. The council further called on Libya's Central Bank to take action to prevent counterfeiting activities.
Also known as the High Council of State, the Tripoli based advisory body was appointed under the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement backed by the UN, and is intended to advise the interim GNA and House of Representatives.