US calls on Russia, Turkey to ‘immediately’ withdraw troops from Libya

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The United States on Thursday called for the immediate withdrawal of Russian and Turkish forces from Libya, after a deadline for them to leave was ignored.

“We call on all external parties, to include Russia, Turkey and the UAE, to respect Libyan sovereignty and immediately cease all military intervention in Libya,” the acting US ambassador Richard Mills said during a UN Security Council meeting on Libya, which has seen a decade of fighting since the overthrow of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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Under a UN-backed ceasefire signed October 23, foreign troops and mercenaries were to pull out of Libya within three months. That deadline passed on Saturday with no movement announced or observed on the ground.

“Per the October ceasefire agreement we call on Turkey and Russia to immediately initiate the withdrawal of their forces from the country and the removal of the foreign mercenaries and military proxies that they have recruited, financed, deployed and supported in Libya,” said Mills.

The UN estimates there are some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions: the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar.

The GNA has received military support from Turkey. Haftar has the backing of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt as well as Russia.

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