Libyan Warplane Downed Striking Jihadists in Benghazi


A fighter jet of forces loyal to a Libyan military strongman was shot down on Saturday as it attacked jihadist 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 jihadists 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. 

Persistent conflict in Libya since the 2011 ouster of dictator Moamer Kadhafi allowed extremist organisations, including the Islamic State group, to gain a foothold in the country.

Benghazi, which fell to Islamist 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.

Haftar's self-declared Libyan National Army (LNA) has managed to retake a large part of Benghazi, the birthplace of the 2011 revolution. 

But the LNA says jihadists are still present in the central districts of Al-Saberi and Suq al-Hut.

Among them is the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, an alliance of Islamist militias that includes Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Al-Sharia.