Little Green Men, Mercenary Operations in Libya, Open Source Intelligence Notes




Little Green Men, Intelligence Notes- Mercenary Operations in Libya


MethodologyOSINT research


Intelligence GapsDisparate Information from Generally Reliable Open Sources



Why Are Mercenaries Engaged in the Conflict in Libya?

Mercenaries are engaged in the conflict in Syria for 3 core reasons


  1. Security and Stability
  • Mercenaries have been contracted by the Libyan National Army (LNA) Rebel militia leader General Haftar
  • Haftar is using mercenary groups to prevent Libya from becoming a failed state and safe haven for radical factions of Islam
  • Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, leader of the internationally & United Nations recognized government is supplied Mercenaries by Turkish President Erdogan.  The Turkish leader is sympathetic to Islamist political movements and favours propping up Fayez al-Sarraj


  1. Proxy Warfare 
  • A myriad of nations are attempting to establish their own brand of power and influence. Overt nations most heavily invested in the conflict in Libya are; Russia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Syria and Turkey.  Nations working in a more clandestine manner to support Libya include, the United States and France


  1. Oil
  • Libya is rich in hydrocarbon resources and has the infrastructure needed to refine them. Libya produces 1.2 million barrels of oil per day. General Haftar controls the eastern and southern parts of Libya which contain the most important oil fields.  This allows Haftar & the LNA to control the oil supplies & deny oil revenues to Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli.  Islamic factions looking to exploit the region and establish a radical sphere of influence are under resourced without highjacking oil revenues


[Photo Libya Oil Resources Map Courtesy Wikimedia]


The Main Players

[Photo General Haftar Courtesy of Wikimedia]

 General Khalifa Haftar

  • Russia, Egypt & United Arab Emirates support General Haftar
  • Haftars’ rebel militias and contract mercenaries are collectively known as the Libyan National Army (LNA)
  • General Haftar is seen as a bulwark against Islamic extremists
  • Haftar controls the eastern part of the desert region as well as several Libyan cities, including Sirte
  • Haftar also controls most key Libyan oil installations (Bloomberg, 2020)
  • The rabidly anti-Islamist Haftar is seen as the strongest power player within Libya — Haftar militias control the country’s east and much of its south, the east is home to the lion’s share of Libya’s oil facilities (CNBC, 2020)
  • General Haftar lived in the United States and advised the Central Intelligence Agency during the 2011 overthrow of the Ghadaffi regime
  • Haftar is openly backed by Russia, Egypt & the United Arab Emirates
  • Haftar appears to be clandestinely supported by France and the USA
  • Haftar is a U.S. citizen and the Trump government has given Haftar credit for fighting radical Islam and securing the Libyan oil supply
  • France has been accused by the GNA of supplying Intelligence agents under diplomatic cover to assist Haftar & the LNA
  • Haftars LNA fight with French supplied anti-armour/anti-helicopter Javelin missiles
  • French soldiers working intelligence operations were killed in Benghazi when their Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter gunship crashed


[Photo Fayez al-Sarraj Courtesy of Wikimedia]

Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj

  • Government of National Accord (GNA)
  • Fayez al-Sarraj is recognized internationally as a legitimate representative of Libya
  • Turkish soldiers are training forces loyal to Fayez al-Sarraj
  • Turkeys Erdogan supports Islamist political movements (Bloomberg, 2020)


[Photo Map of Libya Courtesy of U.S. Government-Central Intelligence Agency-World FactBook]


Mercenary Groups Operating in Libya


Wagner Group (Russian Contractors/Mercenaries)

Sudanese Mercenaries

  • Sudan Liberation Army Mercenaries
  • Sudanese Janjaweed Militia Mercenaries

 Chad Mercenaries

 Syrian-Turkmen Mercenaries (Syrian National Army Militiamen)

  • Al-Hamza brigade
  • Al-Mutassim
  • Suqur Al-Sham or the Sultan Mourad division


 Private Security Company (PSC) Sadat




Profiles of the Mercenary Groups Operating in Libya


Wagner Group

  • Russian Private Military Contractor (PMC) Wagner is reported by the Associated Press to be fighting alongside General Haftar (Euronews, 2019)
  • According to Pavel Felgenhauer defence analyst at the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta Wagner is said to be deploying ‘Elite strike units’ which participate in battles, unlike American defense contractors whose main duties are to provide security guards in dangerous places
  • Lorenzo Cremonesi of the Corriere newspaper reports differently then Felgenhauer. Cremonesi says, Russians keep away from the frontlines, instead operating as snipers from distance, drone pilots or as trainers for Haftar’s soldiers (Euronews, 2019)
  • Bloomberg reports, Wagner Group, has approximately 1,400 mercenary troops in Libya, including 25 Russian pilots who carry out training activities for Haftars’ troops
  • Russian Sukhoi-22 type war planes have been spotted in Libyan skies (AA, 2020)
  • It comes as no surprise there is contradictory reporting on the deployment and roles of Wagner in Libya, Wagner enjoys plausible deniability from the Russian government and dissimilar reports of Wagner activities in Libya feed the Russian propaganda and misinformation machine
  • In Syria, Wagner is advising and assisting the Assad Regime military apparatus. Wagner operations in Syria are likely able to provide completely autonomous battle groups of little green men; including tanks, artillery, armoured personnel carriers, intelligence and air support, much the same as Wagner did in Crimea.  It would be unremarkable to learn that Wagner is providing the same packages of little green men in Libya


Sudanese Mercenaries

  • 3,000 Sudanese mercenaries are fighting with General Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA), the Sudanese Mercenaries and the LNA are working to oust Libya’s legitimate representative Fayez al-Sarraj
  • There are claims that a large contingent of Sudanese fighters from the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were deployed to Libya at Hafters’ request
  • The United Nations allege Sudanese Mercenaries are playing a crucial role in securing Libya’s strategic oil supply for General Haftar and the LNA
  • The United Nations Security Council believes mercenaries from Sudan are a direct threat to the security of the war torn country, and may lead to further instability in Libya
  • Mercenaries from Sudan are further destabilizing Libya by conducting smuggling and other illicit operations (The Guardian, 2020)


Sudan Liberation Army Mercenaries

  • 500 militia members from two separate groups operating in Darfur in the west of Sudan are in General Haftars’ ranks


Sudanese Janjaweed Militia Mercenaries

  • Nearly 1,000 Janjaweed militiamen are led by Muhammad Hamdan Duklu
  • The United Nations claims Janjaweed Mercenaries protect Al Jufra Airbase
  • Some leaders of Janjaweed militias are wanted by the International Criminal Court for their activities in Darfur
  • According to international media reports, the number of Sudanese militias fighting in the ranks of Haftar has recently increased to 3,000 (AA, 2020)


 Chad Mercenaries

  • The United Nations has reported that there are 700 Chadian rebels serving under General Haftar in Libya (AA, 2020)


Syrian-Turkmen Mercenaries (Syrian National Army Militiamen)

  • Backed by Turkey, 3,000 Syrian fighters from the Syrian National Army militiamen have been deployed to Libya
  • An official military cooperation agreement between Turkey and the GNA paved the way for the deployment of Syrian mercenaries in Libya
  • Turkey intends to play a stabilising role in the Libyan conflict
  • Turkey relies mainly on Syrian mercenaries to support the GNA (Ahval, 2020)


Syrian Mercenaries

  • Syrian factions have responded to Turkeys request for Mercenaries in Libya
  • Fighters are trained in a camp in the north of Tripoli, under the direction of Turkish intelligence agents

Syrian military units that have supplied mercenaries to Libya,

  • Al-Hamza brigade
  • Al-Mutassim
  • Suqur Al-Sham or the Sultan Mourad division (Ahval, 2020)


PSC Sadat

  • Private Security Company Sadat has deployed a few dozen instructors to train GNA forces
  • Sadat is founded by Adnan Tanrıverdi, a former military adviser to Erdogan, PSC Sadat has been present in the Libyan capital since 2013 (Ahval, 2020)


[Photo Janjaweed Courtesy of Wikimedia]


The Mercenaries, Who is Fighting for What Side?


General Haftar & the Libyan National Army

Wagner Group (Russian Contractors/Mercenaries)

Sudanese Mercenaries

  • Sudan Liberation Army Mercenaries
  • Sudanese Janjaweed Militia Mercenaries

Chad Mercenaries


Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj & the Government of National Accord (GNA)

Syrian-Turkmen Mercenaries (Syrian National Army Militiamen)

  • Al-Hamza brigade
  • Al-Mutassim
  • Suqur Al-Sham or the Sultan Mourad division

Private Security Company (PSC) Sadat



Russian mercenaries, a CIA-linked general and lots of oil: Explaining Libya’s war-CNBC-Natasha Turak (2020)

Erdogan Warns Russian Mercenaries in Libya Paid by Abu Dhabi-Bloomberg-Onur Ant (2020)

Mercenaries flock to Libya raising fears of prolonged war-The Guardian-Jason Burke & Zeinab Mohammed Salih (2019)

Who are the Russian mercenaries waging war in Libya? EuroNews-Lillo Montalto Monella & Luke Hurst (2019)

Turkey’s involvement in Libya war: 4,700 Syrian mercenaries volunteer to go to Libya, 72 mercenaries killed in Tripoli so far and 64 others cross to Europe-Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (2020)

Syrian mercenaries lured to fight for Turkey in Libya-Ahval News-Guillaume Perrier and Adam Asaad (2020)

Libya’s warlord uses gangs-for-hire, rogue mercenaries-Anadolu Agency-Mustafa Dalaa and Enes Canli   (2020)

A Quick Guide to Libyas Main Players-European Council on Foreign Relations-Mattia Toaldo (2020)

Map Photo Wikipedia Oil Reserves Libya (2020)

Map Photo U.S. Government-Central Intelligence Agency-World Fact book-Libya (2020)