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Cyprus says US agents check light aircraft cited in Libya war report

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NICOSIA, Oct 13 (Reuters) – U.S. federal agents are in Cyprus inspecting a light aircraft, Cypriot police stated on Wednesday, suggesting persevering with worldwide curiosity in a airplane believed by U.N. consultants to have been obtained two years in the past to play a task in Libya’s war.

The aircraft, which the United Nations believes was modified to hold weapons, has been in a hangar at an airport in Cyprus since 2019.

In an emailed response to Reuters questions in regards to the airplane, Cyprus’s transport ministry offered identification codes that match one among three aircraft cited in a March 2021 U.N. report by unbiased sanctions displays in regards to the battle in Libya.

That report detailed allegations of a proposed non-public army operation by Blackwater founder Erik Prince in help of Libya’s then eastern-backed commander Khalifa Haftar in 2019.

Prince has denied any claims he was at any level concerned in any operations in Libya.

U.N. weapons inspectors stated the proposal, codenamed Project Opus, needed to be aborted in June 2019 after Haftar was unimpressed with helicopters procured for the operation.

Libya was racked with violence between rival factions for the reason that 2011 rebellion that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, drawing in overseas powers. A U.N.-backed ceasefire was agreed final 12 months following the collapse of Haftar’s 14-month offensive towards Tripoli.

In Cyprus, a police spokesman stated U.S. federal agents, appearing in cooperation with the United Nations, inspected the aircraft on Tuesday.

Cyprus had initially advised the world physique it had no report of the aircraft touchdown there in July 2019, in keeping with the U.N. March 2021 report. Two transport ministry officers stated it was because of fallacious identification codes handed on by the United Nations.

Its presence in Cyprus was subsequently clarified in later communication with the United Nations, one among them stated.

“It is being kept securely in storage at Paphos airport,” a transport ministry official stated. It has not left the island because it arrived in 2019, the official added.

Reporting By Michele Kambas, Editing by William Maclean

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