US Accuses Russia of Arming Libyan Rebels

Says satellite photos prove arms transfers in Sirte

The Pentagon has issued a new round of allegations against Russia claiming they are providing weapons and even warplanes to Gen. Khalifa Hafter’s rebel forces in Libya. They say satellite images show the transfers in the city of Sirte.

A number of nations have been backing Hafter, including the Russians. The Russian arms are alleged to have come through Wagner, a mercenary company on good terms with the Russian state. If true, they would be just one of several nations involved in arming Hafter in violation of UN embargoes.

And  yet in arming Libyan factions, the US is hardly blameless. They haven’t consistently sent weapons to one group or another, because the administration has often changed its mind about who it supports, but US arms are all over Libya as well.

Even Hafter has some US arms, with allegations that the United Arab Emirates bought them from the US and ferried them on to Libya. The US never did much on that, likely not wanting to lose lucrative sales to the UAE, but when it’s a competitor like Russia, it becomes an issue.

Gen. Hafter’s forces have at times controlled most of Libya, but have failed to conquer Tripoli outright. The Government of National Accord (GNA) is backed by Turkey, and has remained intact, while slowly chasing Hafter out of the country’s west.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.