Reports are surfacing that the United States believes that the unarmed drone, which was brought down recently near the Libyan capital of Tripoli, was shot down by Russian air defenses.

General Stephen Townsend of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), was quoted by Reuters as saying that the Russian air defense operators “didn’t know it was a U.S. remotely piloted aircraft when they fired on it.”

“But they certainly know who it belongs to now and they are refusing to return it,” he continued. “They say they don’t know where it is but I am not buying it.” 

“This highlights the malign influence of Russian mercenaries acting to influence the outcome of the civil war in Libya, and who are directly responsible for the recent and sharp increase in fighting, casualties and destruction around Tripoli,” Townsend said.