İrem UZUN -TDO- Forces backing Libya's unity government said Monday that hundreds of Russian mercenaries fighting for their rival, military commander Khalifa Haftar, had been evacuated from combat zones south of the capital Tripoli. "An Antonov 32 military cargo plane landed at Bani Walid airport to resume the evacuation of Wagner (Group) mercenaries who had fled southern Tripoli, to an as-yet unconfirmed destination," pro-GNA forces wrote on Twitter.
Pro-GNA forces said Monday some "1,500 to 1,600 mercenaries" had fled from the front lines to Bani Walid, a city 150 km southeast of Tripoli. They said the previous day seven cargo planes had landed at the city's airport, bringing in munitions and weaponry and evacuating the fleeing fighters. Russian fighters allied to the LNA retreated with their heavy equipment from the capital to Bani Walid's airport, the mayor Mayor Salem Alaywan said.
Earlier this month, United Nations experts confirmed U.S. media reports that the Wagner Group, a shadowy Russian paramilitary organization seen as close to President Vladimir Putin, had sent fighters to back Haftar. UN monitors identified more than two dozen flights between Russia and eastern Libya from August 2018 to August 2019 by civilian aircraft "strongly linked to or owned by" Wagner Group. The Kremlin has denied the involvement.