A fighter jet of forces loyal to a Libyan military strongman was shot down on Saturday as it attacked terrorist positions in Benghazi, a military source said.
“A MiG-21 was shot down by a heat-seeking missile,” said Mohammad Ghunem, spokesman for the forces of strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is battling to oust terrorists from Libya’s second city.
“The plane, targeted by terrorist groups, crashed in the district of Suq al-Hut but its pilot survived.”
He said the jet was hit as it carried out a raid on the last bastion of “extremists” in the city’s Mediterranean seafront district of Al-Saberi.
The pilot, Adel Abdullah Bushisha, was able to eject and landed by parachute in the east of the city, he said.
Ghunem said the whole of eastern Libya was now under the control of Haftar’s self-declared Libyan National Army (LNA).
“The terrorist groups fled their last stronghold in the western sector of Benghazi,” a source in the LNA’s special forces told AFP.
The source said 17 terrorists were killed in clashes and “many” captured, and that LNA fighters also died in the operation.
A news agency run close to a parallel government in eastern Libya said LNA forces had “intensified their raids against the last bastions of the terrorist groups in Benghazi, some of whom tried to flee during the night”.
Persistent conflict in Libya since the 2011 ouster of dictator Moamer Gaddafi allowed extremist organizations, including the ISIL group, to gain a foothold in the country.
Benghazi, which fell to extremist groups in 2014, has been the scene of deadly fighting between them and forces loyal to Haftar, who controls much of eastern Libya in defiance of the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli.