The UN Security Council reiterated a call for all foreign fighters to leave Libya in a unanimous statement on December 15 that included the backing of Russia, which has been accused of helping a military contractor send mercenaries into the country.
All 15 Security Council members called for the withdrawal of “all foreign fighters and mercenaries” from Libya in line with a UN-brokered cease-fire agreement reached on October 23.
Under the agreement, the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries is to take place within three months.
Stephanie Williams, acting UN envoy to Libya, said earlier this month that about 20,000 foreign and mercenary forces were still in Libya.
Moscow has been accused of supporting mercenaries fighting against the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. The GNA is vying for power against strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Russia, and Egypt.
Before the truce was signed in October, the European Union and Britain sanctioned a Kremlin-connected businessman who they said was providing support for the Vagner Group, a Russian military contractor force active in Libya.
The Security Council released the statement calling for the withdrawal of mercenaries following a closed-door video conference on December 15. The statement also underlined the importance of an effective Libyan-led Cease-Fire Monitoring Mechanism.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to submit options to the Security Council for the creation of the mechanism, which would be run by the United Nations.
Libya has been wracked by violence since longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi was deposed by a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.
Earlier on December 15, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted Russia for continuing to “threaten Mediterranean stability” and sowing “chaos, conflict, and division” in Mediterranean countries, including Libya.