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AFRICOM says Russian air defences shot down UAV

09 December 2019
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LNA soldiers jog past a 2K12 surface-to-air missile system during a May 2018 parade. Source: Libyan National Army

A Russian air defence system was responsible for shooting down a US unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over Libya on 21 November, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) told Reuters on 7 December.

AFRICOM spokesman Colonel Christopher Karns told the news agency that a US assessment had concluded that either Russian private military contractors or the Libyan National Army (LNA) were operating the air defence system at the time and believed the UAV was operated by the opposition.

Backed by Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the LNA is a faction that is currently attempting to capture Tripoli from the Government of National Accord (GNA). Turkey is known to have deployed UAVs in support of the GNA.

AFRICOM commander General Stephen Townsend told the news agency that he believed the operators of the air defences "didn't know it was a US remotely piloted aircraft when they fired on it… but they certainly know who it belongs to now and they are refusing to return it. They say they don't know where it is but I am not buying it."

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