The speaker of the parliament based in the eastern part of Libya said that Russia has promised military assistance. House of Representatives President Agila Saleh told Russia’s state RIA Novosti news agency that authorities in the east have asked Moscow to help train army personnel and repair military equipment.
Saleh says that “we were promised assistance in the fight against terrorism.” Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, a military chief allied with the parliament opposed to the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, twice traveled to Moscow last year. In January, he also visited a Russian aircraft carrier off Libya’s coast and had a call with the Russian defense minister.
Saleh said that about 70 soldiers from Hifter’s forces were sent to Russia last month for medical treatment. At the same time, Russia also hosted Faez Sarraj, the prime minister of the government in Tripoli, this month in an apparent effort to expand its clout in the fractured country by talking to both sides.
Libya sank into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and has remained split between rival parliaments and governments in the east and west, each backed by a set of militias, tribes and political factions.