A Libyan National Army (LNA) MiG-23ML Fighter Jet was shot down by forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA).
The jet was hit over the Yarmouk frontline in southern Tripoli and crashed in Al-Zawiya city and the pilot Amer Jagem was detained after ejecting. A possible second pilot was supposedly killed in the crash.
The MiG-23 serial “26144” was brought back to active service at Benghazi airport, in eastern Libya, where it had been in storage for many years, recently: images of the jet being loaded with bombs at Benghazi emerged in September:
#Libya – #LNA AF lost MiG-23ML serial '26144' today over Zawiyah. The pilot – Brig. Gen. Aamer Al-Jagam ejected safely and was captured. Al-Jagam has long time experience within LNA AF. Pictures below were taken in 2016. pic.twitter.com/iwnzP7h677
— Arnaud Delalande (@Arn_Del) December 7, 2019
Video shared online allegedly shows an armed group claiming to be members of GNA using MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense System) to target Khalifa Haftars’ MiG-23: while the quality is poor, the clip seems to show an 9K32 Strela-2 (NATO reporting name SA-7 Grail) man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude, IR (infra-red) guided, surface-to-air missile system.
#ليبيـا | لحظة إسقاط سرية الدفاع الجوي بقوات حكومة الوفاق الوطني لطائرة المليشيات الغازية . pic.twitter.com/9KjbRQ779I
— أحـمـد الجـطـلاوي (@ahmedfeeb1975) December 7, 2019
The footage doesn’t show the exact moment the MiG-23 was hit so we can’t be sure the video shows yesterday’s episode or another attempt at shooting down Haftar’s jet earlier.
Actually, there are conflicting reports even as to where the jet was shot down: some reports say the MiG-23 crashed in western Tripoli whereas others say it was hit and crashed near Yarmouk Camp frontline in southern Tripoli.
Needless to say, LNA has acknowledged the loss, but says the MiG-23 crashed for technical reasons:
Statement by the General Command regarding the crashed fighter jet pic.twitter.com/gYRDUawycH
— LNA Spox. (@spoxlna) December 8, 2019
The fighter jet’s pilot was captured, the statement added, revealing no details about casualties.
The east-based army has been leading a military campaign since early April in and around Tripoli, in an attempt to take over the capital city and overthrow the UN-backed government.
The armed conflict has killed and injured thousands of people while displacing nearly 120,000 civilians.
On Thursday, UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj said there will be no cease-fire without the withdrawal of the rival east-based army from western Libya.