The Address | Benghazi – Libya
BENGHAZI – Spokesman of the General Command of the Libyan National Army (LNA), General Brigadier Ahmed al-Mesmari denied on Monday allegations made by British newspaper The Telegraph regarding the presence of “Russian mercenaries” in Benghazi.
In a statement to The Address, Al-Mesmari dismissed these allegations as “ridiculous”, pointing out that this is not the first time The Telegraph publishes such allegations which the newspaper attributes to anonymous sources.
“This same newspaper published a while ago allegations over the existence of a Russian naval base in Benghazi,” Al-Mesmari explained.
“We then invited the newspaper, during a press conference, to visit [LNA’s General Command] and walk us through the naval base that it’s talking about. However, the newspaper chose instead to continue spreading rumors and lies,” He said.
The Telegraph claimed in a report on Sunday that “hundreds of mercenaries linked to Russian military intelligence” have been backing LNA. The newspaper claimed, citing an anonymous source, that Wagner Group, a private military company, has been supporting LNA “with 300 personnel in Benghazi” and has supplied the army “with artillery, tanks, drones and ammunition”.
Al-Mesmari affirmed that the presence of 300 Russian personnel, as claimed by the newspaper, is equivalent to almost two battalions. He explained that this not a small number to be brought to Benghazi without anyone noticing.
Al-Mesmari stressed that LNA has been building its capabilities on its own due to the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council.
Al-Mesmari pointed out to the ongoing media clash between the West and Russia in the light of old differences between the two. Al-Mesmari rejected dragging LNA in the midst of this clash by spreading “such propaganda” and “marketing it to local and international public opinion.”
“The more achievements and advances LNA is accomplishing on the ground; the more these rumors and reports, based on anonymous sources, intensify.” He said before adding, “This is similar to what some of the dubious media in Libya does. We are used to this and we no longer care about it.”