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The New Arab

US may deploy forces in Tunisia over 'Russia concerns'

US Africa Command has claimed that Moscow sent aircraft to Libya [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 May, 2020

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After raising concerns over alleged Russian jets arriving to Libya, the US is now considering sending soldiers to Tunisia amid North Africa tensions.
The United States is considering sending a 'training' unit to the north African Tunisia, citing concerns over Russia's involvement in Libya, a report said on Saturday.

According to Reuters, the US is weighing on deploying a Security Force Assistance Brigade in Tunisia for "training", as part of its assistance program with the North Africa country, amid concern over Russian activity in Libya.

Earlier in the week, the US military command for Africa (Africom) sounded the alarm, claiming Moscow had deployed several MiG-29 Fulcrum jets and Su-35 Flankers in Libya, where Russia is supporting the forces of warlord Khalifa Haftar.

The Libyan conflict has seen the involvement of Arab as well as European countries. Russia, the UAE, France, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have backed Haftar while the internationally-backed government receives military support from Turkey

Haftar launched a Tripoli offensive last year in a plot to seize the Libyan capital from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

On Wednesday, the UN said it was "following with great concern" claims that Russia recently sent fighter jets to Libya to support Russian mercenaries fighting for Haftar.

"As Russia continues to fan the flames of the Libyan conflict, regional security in North Africa is a heightened concern," the US Africa Command was quoted by Reuters as saying on Friday.

Read more: UN concerned by US claims Russia sent jets to Libya despite arms embargo

"We're looking at new ways to address mutual security concerns with Tunisia, including the use of our Security Force Assistance Brigade," the US command said.

The Brigade, according to the US command, is a small training unit as part of military assistance and "no way implies combat military forces".

Both Haftar and Russia have denied the US claims of Moscow sending jets.

Tunisia's defense ministry said the US was a main partner in the effort to build its army's operational capability, according to a statement reviewed by the news agency.

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