A report by a UN Panel of Experts said the foreign mercenaries were affiliated with Lancaster 6 DMCC and Opus Capital Asset Limited FZE, both registered at free zones in the UAE, Bloomberg reported.

Damaged buildings and cars are seen at the site after a rocket attacks by warlord Khalifa Haftar's militia over Bab Bin Ghashir area of Tripoli, Libya on May 9, 2020.
Damaged buildings and cars are seen at the site after a rocket attacks by warlord Khalifa Haftar's militia over Bab Bin Ghashir area of Tripoli, Libya on May 9, 2020. (AA)

Two Dubai-based companies sent Western mercenaries to support warlord Khalifa Haftar in his offensive to capture Libya’s capital Tripoli, according to a confidential UN report.

A report by a UN Panel of Experts said the foreign mercenaries were affiliated with Lancaster 6 DMCC and Opus Capital Asset Limited FZE, both registered at free zones in the UAE, American news outlet Bloomberg reported.

They traveled to Libya in June 2019 for a "well funded private military company operation" to support Haftar's offensive against the Libyan government.

The report was shared with the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) sanctions committee in February, according to two diplomats who spoke to Bloomberg.

They told Bloomberg that the two companies supplied "Haftar's forces with helicopters, drones, and cyber capabilities through a complex web of shell companies."

The diplomats said the mercenaries “promised a sophisticated operation that could interdict arms shipments from Turkey to the government of Tripoli using vessels and helicopters.”

"The report found that six former military helicopters were acquired and sent to Libya for the project in what it described as non-compliance with a UN resolution for an arms embargo on Libya," read the Bloomberg report.

However, after arriving in Libya in late June 2019, the group of 20 people led by South African national Steve Lodge “abruptly pulled out a few days later” on two boats to Malta, it added.

UN investigators said in the report they were unable to determine the reason for the team’s exit.

The UN report said one of the companies, Lancaster 6, is headed by former Australian air force pilot Christiaan Durrant.

According to the company’s website, he worked for Frontier Services Group until 2016, a group founded by Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater Worldwide, read the Bloomberg report.

“There’s no suggestion in the report that Prince or any company with which he is affiliated had any role in his former employee’s mission,” it said.

The Bloomberg report said UN officials declined to comment on the matter “as the report is not public.”

It explained that the UNSC “is not required to take action on the report but members can refer it for investigation in their own countries.”

Libyan official calls for cutting UAE ties amid attacks

Meanwhile, on Saturday an armed UAV operated by the Air Force of the Government of National Accord had destroyed a Russian made Pantsir Air Defence system provided by the UAE at Watiya air base.

Amid reports of UAE's support to the warlord, a member of Libya's Presidential Council has called for severing relations with Abu Dhabi.

In a letter to the Libyan government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj late on Friday, council member Mohamed Amaria Zayed termed the UAE as an "aggressor".

"Maintaining silence to the crimes of this state would mean abandoning the blood of the martyrs," he said in his letter.

Zayed called on Libya's Presidential Council to "take the step to halt the Libyan bloodshed and violation of [Libya]'s border by this state".

He also urged the Libyan authorities "to pursue the UAE at international courts" and to deal with the Gulf state as an "enemy".

"It is proven beyond doubt that the UAE is involved in shedding the Libyan blood, violating the country's sovereignty by occupying part of its land, establishing military bases, violating our airspace, and carrying out airstrikes with the aim of killing Libyan citizens," he said.

The council member went on to accuse the UAE of providing military, political, and financial support to Haftar's forces "with the aim of toppling the legitimate government".

Haftar, the leader of illegal armed forces in eastern Libya, has intensified attacks on civilians since the beginning of May as the Libyan army recently gained an advantage and inflicted severe losses on his militants.

Libya's government has been under attack by Haftar's forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence. It launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital.

Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya's government was founded in 2015 under UN-led political agreement.

Source: AA