The number of mercenaries from Russian Wagner Group headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as “Putin’s chef” for his Kremlin catering contracts, who arrived at a forward base in Libya in the first week of September to bolster Khalifa Haftar’s forces, has risen to 1400, Bloomberg reported on Friday.
The numbers of Russian mercenaries have risen since last September to more than 1,400 troops involved in direct fighting and manning artillery, according to three Western officials.
Wagner has also brought in pilots. One official said 25 pilots, trainers and support crew had been deployed. Two others said the pilots were flying missions in refurbished Sukhoi-22 jets belonging to Haftar. Bloomberg added.
Haftar’s forces have been leading an attack on Tripoli since April, causing so far thousands of injuries, over 1000 deaths, over 1200.000 displaced people and a massive destruction in private and public infrastructure and properties.
The US on Thursday sent a very clear and tough message to its rival, Russia, urging Haftar’s forces to end their offensive on Tripoli immediately so it can facilitate political dialogues and solution and to prevent “Russia from exploiting the Tripoli conflict against the will of the Libyan people”.