Although warlord Khalifa Haftar has bought several ragtag militias, here's a quick look into the three most crucial fighting groups that fuel the self-proclaimed field marshal's war against UN-backed government in Tripoli.

Libyan Warlord Khalifa Haftar launched an extensive and brutal military campaign against the UN-backed government in Tripoli in April this year and he continues to wage war for the power grab. 

Haftar's so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) claims to have 80,000 fighters, but according to the Italian Institute for International Political Studies it has just 7,000 regular forces and 18,000 auxiliary forces. 

The study also says that Haftar's militia is full of criminals and mercenaries, a far cry from Haftar's description of his men being a disciplined and professional force. 

As per the report, one of his senior commanders Mahmoud al Werfalli is a fugitive, dodging an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court.

While Haftar failed to invade the capital city Tripoli on two occasions, the conflict recently took a new turn with Russian mercenaries from Wagner siding with Haftar. Apart from Wagner, Haftar has managed to rope in several dozen militias full of ragtag bandits and criminals. 

Here's a quick insight into the three main fighting groups Haftar is heavily dependent on.   

Wagner Group

According to several reports, Wagner Group is linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The group's presence was first reported in eastern Ukraine, where its mercenaries fought alongside pro-Russian forces, who'd revolted against the Eurocentric government of Ukraine. 

Headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin who is also known as former ‘Hotdog Seller’ and ‘Putin’s Chef’ for having catering contracts with Kremlin, Wagner Group has earned notoriety for being a proxy front for Putin's wars in the Middle East and Europe and Prigozhin its enabler. 

Wagner Group has started deploying mercenaries on the front lines of the Libyan war following Russia’s decisive military intervention in Syria where hundreds of Wagner’s mercenaries were reportedly killed during clashes with the US forces as they attempted to seize an oil refinery in Syria in 2018. 

According to Libya’s UN-backed government, more than 800 mercenaries from Wagner are present in Libya, fighting for Haftar. 

The US Assistant Secretary for the Affairs of the Near East, David Schenker stated that the US is to work with European countries to place sanctions on Wagner, citing “the spectre of large-scale civilian killings" by the Wagner Group.

Janjaweed Militia - Sudanese Rapid Support Forces (RSF)

Janjaweed is an armed group from South Sudan. Former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir converted officially Janjaweed Militia into the Rapid Support Forces under the command of the National Intelligence and Security Services. They were used to defeat rebel groups in the country in 2013.

Human Rights Watch’s report revealed that the RSF militias have committed war crimes, rapes, displaced civilians in 2014 and 2015 in Darfur. 

In July, reports emerged that the first unit of RSF militia arrived in Libya in order to support Haftar for his operation to capture Tripoli.  At least 1,000 militias have reportedly arrived in the oil-rich country. 

RSF is also led by a warlord named Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti

Salafist Madkhali Group

Although Haftar claims he's fighting against extremist religious groups, he's closely working with the Salafist Madkhali militias, a fighting force full of fundamentalists who are supported by the UAE and Saudi.

There are other Salafist armed groups linked with Haftar such as the Subul al-Salam and the al-Wadi Brigade. Both groups have gained influence in Libya following the end of Gaddafi’s term in 2011.

Source: TRT World