Middle East

US considers sending ‘training’ unit to Tunisia amid North Africa tensions

TUNIS (Reuters) – The United States said it is considering 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.

Libya’s civil war has drawn in regional and global powers, prompting what the United Nations has called a huge influx of weapons and fighters into the region, in violation of an arms embargo.

“As Russia continues to fan the flames of the Libyan conflict, regional security in North Africa is a heightened concern,” the US Africa Command said in a statement on Friday.

“We’re looking at new ways to address mutual security concerns with Tunisia, including the use of our Security Force Assistance Brigade.”

It later said the Brigade refers to a small training unit as part of military assistance and no way implies combat military forces.

Russian military personnel have delivered 14 MiG 29 and Su-24 fighter jets to the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) Jufra air base, the US military said on Wednesday, despite denials by the LNA and a Russian member of parliament.

Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates support the eastern-based Khalifa Haftar’s LNA, which launched an offensive last year to seize the capital Tripoli.

In a statement, Tunisia’s defense ministry said the US was a main partner in the effort to build its army’s operational capability.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Tom Hogue, Clarence Fernandez and Mike Harrison

Image; In this May 21, 2019 file photo, Tripoli government forces clash with forces led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, south of the capital Tripoli, Libya. (AP Photo/Hazem Ahmed, File)

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