Egyptian workers return from Libya after incendiary video

CAIRO — Twenty-three Egyptian workers who were recently detained by militias allied with the Tripoli-based government in western Libya and later released arrived home on Thursday, Egypt’s official news agency MENA reported.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military renewed its accusations that the Russian government is deploying warplanes to the North African country.

The release and repatriation of the Egyptian workers came on the heels of footage circulated on social media purportedly showing militias linked to the U.N.-supported government humiliating scores of Egyptians captured in the western town of Tarhuna.

Egypt is aligned with the commander of Libya’s east-based forces, Khalifa Hifter, who has been fighting the Tripoli-based government and the militias that support it. In April 2019, Hifter’s forces launched an assault to take Tripoli.

Egyptian media said the “prompt” repatriation of the workers was the outcome of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi’s diplomatic efforts. Pictures of the returnees raising Egyptian flags shortly after their arrival at the Salloum crossing near the Libyan border were posted by local media outlets.

“We lived through horror and we felt we could die at any moment,” said an unnamed Egyptian construction worker upon his arrival.

On Monday, a video purportedly showing scores of Egyptian workers being coerced by Tripoli-allied militias to line up in rows and stand on one leg while raising their hands upward, was widely shared online. In the same video, workers are forced to repeat after their captors phrases hailing the military operations of the Tripoli-based government and to insult President el-Sissi and his ally Hifter.