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Sudan 'UAE's transport hub' for mercenaries in Libya, Yemen: report

The UAE requested multiple stopovers for 'passangers and cargo' across Sudan [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 July, 2019

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Leaked documents reveal the UAE demanded permits for military plane stopovers in Sudanese airports before travelling to Libya, Egypt and Eritrea, further confirming the use of mercenaries in Emirati conflicts.

The UAE has used Sudanese airspace and ports for the transportation of hundreds of mercenaries fighting in conflicts in Libya and Yemen via Eritrea, according to leaked official documents published by Al Jazeera's Arabic-language site.

The report further confirmed the widespread use of mercenary fighters by the Gulf country in its various conflicts across the region.

The news coincides with reports that 1,000 Sudanese mercenaries arrived in Libya on Thursday, charged with protecting oil facilities under General Khalifa Haftar's control, in order for the Libyan warlord to focus his troops' efforts on the battle to take Tripoli.

The UAE, along with Egypt, support General Haftar and have supplied his militia alliance - known as the Libyan National Army (LNA) - with military aid including anti-aircraft missiles, ammunition and night sighting devices.

One of the documents, a letter from the Emirati embassy in Khartoum to the Sudanese foreign ministry, reveals Abu Dhabi requested a diplomatic permit for two military transport planes to cross the country and land at El Geneina airport in Darfur, western Sudan.

The same letter stated that the planes were carrying "passengers from the Sudanese forces" and requested to carry out the stop between the 1 and 30 June.

The letter also revealed the planes were flying from and departing to Assab in Eritrea, where an Emirati base used for operations in Yemen's Hodeidah is situated.

In another letter, the embassy requested diplomatic permits for two military planes to land at Khartoum airport to transport "passengers and cargo" from the Sudanese capital to Kharouba airport, also known as Khadim airport, on LNA-controlled territory in Libya, also used as an Emirati military base. 

The route also included Abu Dhabi and Cairo airports, and requested the stopovers between 25 and 26 May.

Al Jazeera also alleges that Hemedti, the commander of Sudan's Rapid Support Forces Militia, has recruited some 450 mercenaries from Arab tribes in Darfur, Chad and Niger, requesting they are "light-skinned" and "speak Arabic", citing confidential sources.

Upon UN-backed government forces retaking the Libyan town of Gharyan from Haftar's LNA, videos purported to show captured mercenaries from Chad having been recruited by the Emirati-backed warlord.

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