Many foreign fighters such as Sudanese Janjaweed militias, Chadian rebel groups, and Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group are used to support warlord Khalifa Haftar's so-called Libyan National Army.
Using painstaking analysis of video footage and other sources, Anadolu Agency has documented that warlord Khalifa Haftar is using Sudanese mercenaries in the fight against Libya's government.
Many foreign fighters such as Sudanese Janjaweed militias, Chadian rebel groups, and Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group also support Haftar, the leader of the so-called Libyan National Army.
The presence of Sudanese fighters – used by the United Arab Emirates-based security company Blackshield and taken to Libya – is also widely mentioned in UN reports, which Haftar and his supporters continue to deny.
Following the downfall of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political deal. Since April 2019, the government has been under attack by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces, based in eastern Libya, with more than 1,000 people killed in the violence.
Sudanese fighters found via visual data
The presence of Sudanese mercenaries in Libya is a subject often covered by international media. Anadolu Agency correspondents managed to prove the presence of Sudanese fighters in Libya using visual data.
The first stage of the research, started by screening all written texts and reports containing the words "Sudanese mercenaries" and "Libya," found that Sudanese fighters first get three months of military training in the UAE’s Al Ghayathi region and then are brought to Libya's military airports in Benghazi, Sirte, Ras Lanuf, and Al Jufra, all of which are under Haftar’s control.
Then the visual data of Sudanese fighters scattered across the country was scanned. Videos shot in places that could not be verified were eliminated.
Among the few remaining videos, a video titled “Sudanese mercenaries are fighting for Haftar in Benghazi” was selected and analysed.
Video shot in Benghazi
The social media account which posted the video was being actively used to share visuals from Libya, strengthening the possibility that the video in question was shot in Benghazi.
A mapping technique was also used to verify the video.
A bird's-eye-view map was drawn by importing sequences of the building and objects in the video, which shows some 100-200 Sudanese fighters taking an oath of allegiance to fight for Haftar.
Despite heavy fog in the location where the footage was taken, the presence of two structures in the background thought to be an oil tank and industrial light poles around it indicate that the place was more of an oil refinery than a military base.
Then the research checked oil plants in Benghazi one by one through Google Earth, but the building sequences of the plants in Benghazi failed to match the map made by Anadolu Agency correspondents.
Satellite images of oil refineries checked
A list of all oil refineries in Libya was then prepared and satellite images were carefully checked one by one.
The building was eventually found at a refinery plant near Al Jufra, which was the 51st oil facility in a list of 55 refineries. The facility in question largely matched a drawing by an Anadolu Agency correspondent.
The confirmation process, however, continued since the satellite images of the facility were last updated in 2016 and looked different from some structures in the drawing.
At this point, research found that the facility had a Facebook account and had shared more than 2,000 pictures of the refinery.
These pictures were compared with the drawings and satellite images. The building sequences in the pictures in question were found to match the building sequence in the video and the drawing.
It was thus concluded that the video was taken from the Zella 74-B oilfield near al Jufra.
Through this method of rigorous and careful analysis, Haftar's claim that there are no Sudanese foreign fighters in Libya has been decisively disproven.