Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush on Sunday announced a “very modest start” to the withdrawal of foreign fighters from the war-torn North African country.
Oil-rich Libya is seeking to emerge from a decade of chaos since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, a period marked by bloody violence involving militias, foreign fighters and extremist groups.
The United Nations estimates 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters are deployed in the country, including Russians from the private security company Wagner, Chadians, Sudanese and Syrians.
“The news is true... It’s a very modest start,” Mangoush told a news conference in Kuwait City in response to a question on the pullout of foreign forces.
Libyan authorities are “aiming for the departure of a larger number,” she said, and to implement “a larger, more comprehensive” departure strategy.
“That is what we will try to achieve during the conference on Libyan stability at the end of this month,” she added, referring to a meeting announced by Libya’s presidential council chief Mohamed al-Manfi.
Mangoush did not specify the number of foreign fighters that had already left the country.
The UN, Libya and several other countries have repeatedly called for the departure of foreign forces from Libyan soil.
Following a 2020 ceasefire deal, a unified Libyan transitional government was formed earlier this year under UN auspices, with the aim of leading the country to elections scheduled for December 24.
But thorny negotiations over electoral laws have placed growing doubts over the process.