The departure of the Russians first reported on Sunday was another blow to Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and his foreign allies.
Hundreds of Russian military contractors in Libya were evacuated on Monday after retreating from fighting on the capital’s front lines, forces backing the unity government said.
The claim comes after a series of setbacks for eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar’s year-long offensive to seize Tripoli from the UN-supported Government of National Accord (GNA).
“An Antonov 32 military cargo plane landed at Bani Walid airport to resume the evacuation of Wagner [Group] mercenaries who had fled southern Tripoli to an as-yet unconfirmed destination,” pro-GNA forces wrote on Twitter.
Pro-GNA forces said Monday some “1,500 to 1,600 mercenaries” had fled from the front lines to Bani Walid, a city 150km (93 miles) southeast of Tripoli. They said the previous day seven cargo planes had landed at the city’s airport, bringing in munitions and weaponry and evacuating the fleeing fighters.
He told Reuters news agency the Russians were then flown out of western Libya to Jufra, a remote central district and LNA stronghold. “They [the Russians] were flown in three military planes to Jufra, and their military vehicles were driven there,” said Alaywan.
LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mesmari denied any foreigners were fighting with his forces.