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Libya's Haftar forces capture 'foreign pilot' after downing warplane

The two sides often accuse each of resorting to the use of foreign mercenaries [LNA]

Date of publication: 7 May, 2019

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Forces loyal to Libyan rogue general Khalifa Haftar have said they have shot down a warplane of the UN-backed government south of the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Forces loyal to Libyan rogue general Khalifa Haftar have said they have shot down a warplane of the UN-backed government south of the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) said it downed the plane on Tuesday and captured its European pilot in the town of al-Hira, a pro-Haftar news agency reported.

The force released images of the pilot with blood on his face receiving medical treatment next to an LNA commander.

In a short video, the man identifies himself as a 29-year-old Portuguese national.

In another clip, the man is asked in English by an LNA fighter in the back of a pickup truck whether he was a soldier. "No, I am a civilian," he says.

There was no immediate comment on the report from the Government of National Accord whose forces have been locked in battle with the Tripoli-based LNA since Haftar's fighters launched an offensive on April 4.

The almost five-week-old battle on the southern outskirts of Tripoli has killed at least 432 people, wounded 2,069 and displaced some 55,000 others, according to the UN.

After initial advances for the LNA, its rivals have launched a counter-offensive, leading to a stalemate on the ground.

The two sides often accuse each of resorting to the use of foreign mercenaries and outside military assistance.

Libya has been mired in chaos since the ouster and killing of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with Haftar supporting a rival administration in the east of the country.

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