Eastern Libya forces fly wounded to Russia in growing cooperation
Ayman Al-Warfalli, Reuters, Feb 1 2017
Around 70 soldiers from the forces of Khalifa Haftar have been sent to Russia for treatmen, in one of his first overt signs of cooperation with Moscow, an official and a military source said. Opponents of Haftar’s Libyan National Army, based in the east of the country, worry that his engagement with Russia may strengthen his opposition to the UN-supported government in Tripoli. An official from Haftar’s forces’ committee for the wounded said the fighters had left for Russia via Egypt, but did not provide any details. A military source confirmed the transfer of 70 patients by plane from Benina airport in Benghazi to Egypt, from where they were taken to Russia. The source said this would not be the last such operation for LNA wounded. Haftar, whose forces have been fighting against an alliance of Jihadis in Benghazi for two years, enjoys close ties to General Sisi in Egypt. He has visited Moscow twice last year to ask for military aid. Haftar has shunned the UN-mediated peace deal, accusing the so-called government of aligning itself with some of the Jihadis.