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Libya government accuses Russia's Wagner mercenaries of 'chemical attack' in Tripoli offensive Open in fullscreen

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Libya government accuses Russia's Wagner mercenaries of 'chemical attack' in Tripoli offensive

Wagner Group is a shadowy mercenary outfit waging wars in Syria and Libya [Anadolu Agency]

Date of publication: 23 April, 2020

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Russian private firm Wagner helped mobilise an alleged nerve gas attack by Haftar's forces in the Libyan capital, the GNA said.
Libyan Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha has accused militias of Khalifa Al-Haftar's self-described Libyan National Army (LNA) of using banned chemical weapons in southern Tripoli, and alleged that Russian security firm Wagner Group played a role in the alleged attack.

The UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) official told reporters on Wednesday that Wagner mercenaries used a nerve agent against Libyan forces in the Salah al-Din area.

"In the Salah al-Din axis, our fighters were exposed to nerve gas from Haftar's forces, and were paralyzed and then sniped. This deed can only be carried out by Wagner," Bashaga said.

The private contractor, also known as PMC Wagner, has deployed mercenaries in Libya fighting alongside Haftar's self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA). 

While Bashagha did not disclose further information on the exact kind of nerve gas allegedly used against GNA fighters, an Egyptian-Canadian photojournalist in Libya has given his witness account, after witnessing "dodgy" symptoms at a Libyan hospital.

Amru Salahuddien wrote on Twitter that he witnessed on Wednesday several GNA fighters falling to the ground, "slightly shaking and unable to breathe normally".

Over the weekend, Salahuddien said he was in hospital receiving treatment when he saw GNA fighters with "no visible injures" shaking and vomiting with "epilepsy like symptoms".

An alleged Libyan doctor writing under a pseudonym said the attack was unlikely to have used nerve gas.

Libya's sarin precursors were handed over before its revolution, while chlorine does not match descriptions of witness accounts, he said. "Most likely it was incendiary white phosphorous."

The GNA minister called on Russia and other allied countries of Haftar's forces to halt their support to the militia. 

Bashaga said the "never-ending reports" of violations in Libya were being "recorded in history", adding that the GNA would use the "evidence" to pursue the parties responsible in international courts. 

Since the LNA launched their offensive on Tripoli in April, both sides of the conflict have reiterated accusations that the other was deploying foreign forces in the ongoing civil war.

The pro-GNA Turkish President Recep Erdogan has said that over 2,000 Wagner mercenaries were fighting in Libya, while Putin denies Russia’s direct involvement in the conflict.

Read also: Turkey 'mobilising major Libya offensive' to secure Tripoli as warlord Haftar loyalists target coronavirus hospital

PMC Wagner is believed to be owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin - a businessman with close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Wagner was also spotted at the forefront of Syria's war, where tyrant president Bashar Al-Assad has used sarin and chlorine weapons on civilians, according to the OPCW.

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