Libyan minister slams Russia, asks Washington to help
The Interior Minister of Libya's internationally recognized government accused Russia of fueling the ongoing war with mercenaries Sunday and urged the U.S. to increase efforts to resolve the crisis.
Fathi Bashagha told the Bloomberg news site ahead of his Washington visit, the U.S. cooperated with Libya in its fight against the Daesh/ISIS terror group, but attacks by Gen. Khalifa Haftar undermined the fight against terrorists and Russia exacerbated ongoing unrest in the country.
"The Russians have intervened to pour fuel on the fire and enhance the crisis rather than finding a solution," Bashahga said, as he criticized the deployment of the Wagner mercenary group.
"The proof is their deployment of Wagner to Libya. They had sent it to Syria before, and central Africa, and wherever Wagner goes destruction happens," he said.
Russia denies the existence of the mercenary group in Libya.
Bashahga accused Russia of attempting to restore power to remnants of Muammar Al-Qaddafi, the ousted leader of Libya who was killed in 2011.
"The U.S. has an obligation, moral and legal, toward Libya. The U.S. was a strong partner in bringing down the old regime. It should cooperate with us Libyans to restore stability and security," he said.
Forces aligned with Haftar launched a campaign in April to capture Tripoli from Libya's internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
Clashes between the two sides have left more than 1,000 people dead and 5,500 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The oil-rich country has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a NATO-backed uprising after four decades in power.
Libya has since seen the emergence of two rival seats of power: one in eastern Libya, with which Haftar is affiliated, and the Tripoli-based GNA, which enjoys UN recognition.