By Hamdi Yildiz
TRIPOLI (AA) – Eight mercenaries linked to forces loyal to military commander Khalifa Haftar have been killed, said Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) on Thursday.
The mercenaries were working for a Russian firm called the Wagner Group (also known as PMC Wagner or CHVK Vagner), the GNA’s Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) military operation said on social media.
The statement said the mercenaries had been preparing for an offensive against the capital Tripoli.
Separately, a group of African mercenaries used by Haftar were also captured.
In a statement, GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha said that the United Arab Emirates is supporting Haftar with mercenaries from both the Russian firm and Sudan's Janjaweed militia.
This April Haftar’s forces launched a campaign to capture Tripoli from the Government of National Accord.
Clashes between the two sides since then have left more than 1,000 dead and about 5,500 wounded, according to the World Health Organization.
The oil-rich country has been beset by turmoil since 2011, when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a NATO-backed uprising.
Libya has since seen the emergence of two rival seats of power: One in the east to which Haftar is affiliated, and the Tripoli-based GNA, which enjoys UN recognition.
*Writing by Dilara Hamit in Ankara