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Haftar's forces 'shoot down helicopter, killing pilot' in western Libya Open in fullscreen

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Haftar's forces 'shoot down helicopter, killing pilot' in western Libya

Images of the crash were posted on social media [Twitter]

Date of publication: 13 June, 2019

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Images of a burning wreckage have been attributed to an attack on an aircraft belonging to Libya's internationally-recognised government.

General Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) said on Thursday they had shot down a helicopter belonging to the rival UN-backed forces on Thursday.

The alleged downing resulted in the death of the government pilot near the city of Misrata, which lies some 180 kilometres from the capital.

Images emerged on social media showing a burning wreckage which local sources claimed was a helicopter belonging to the Government of National Accord (GNA), who alongside Islamist militants have been battling Haftar's factions over the course of Libya's bloody civil war.

The GNA however claimed the aircraft crashed due to mechanical failure.

Haftar - who is backed by the UAE, Egypt, Russia and others - launched an offensive to take Tripoli in April. The offensive stalled on the outskirts of the capital after more than 600 people were killed.

The military strongman has already taken swathes of the country, including important onshore oil reserves, which some experts say put the odds in his favour. Others argue that despite his powerful backers, he still does not has sufficient military might to seize the capital.

As a humanitarian crisis brews for the country's civilians, the UN on Monday renewed its authorisation of an EU mission to combat arms smuggling off Libya's coast to cut the flow of weapons into the chaotic civil war.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame last month called for immediate steps to cut off arms flows to Libya, warning that without quick action, the country would descend into a civil war that could lead to its partition.

In a report to the council, UN sanctions experts said that missiles fired at pro-Tripoli forces in April pointed to a likely drone attack that could involve a "third party", possibly the UAE, which has backed Haftar.

Hundreds of people have died and tens of thousands have been displaced in the offensive on Tripoli, while diplomatic efforts to resume political talks have remained deadlocked.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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