By Ayman Amzein.
Benghazi, 8 February 2016:
Ansar Al-Sharia is claiming that it shot down a Libyan Air Force MiG-23 today during an . . .[restrict]airstrike on Derna. Ansar used a Twitter account to say that it had brought down the plane with anti-aircraft fire.
The Air Force has admitted the loss of the warplane but said that it crashed because of a mechanical failure. The MiG-23, numbered ‘6132’, was reportedly only returned to frontline service on 1 February after a major overhaul.
Spokesman Abdulkareem Sabra told Reuters that the pilot had survived and was well. He added the attack had been against IS positions in the town.
Other sources are saying this evening that the jet came down east of Derna, in the Sidi Khaled area.
This is the second time in 48 hours that Derna has been hit by airstrikes. Yesterday four people, including a ten year-old boy and his mother, died in three raids which also struck and damaged a mosque, the renal unit at the Alwahda hospital and nearby doctors’ accommodation in the Bab Tobruk area of the town. The main target seemed to be sites held by the Derna Shoura Council.
The Libya Air Force immediately denied it had been responsible. Sunday’s assault drew condemnation, led by Faiez Serraj, prime minister-designate of the Government of National Accord, who bemoaned the loss of civilian life and urged all Libyans to back the new government. Libya’s ambassador to the Arab League Ashour Burashid said that whoever was behind the dawn bombing was guilty of targeting unarmed civilian, which was a war crime.
UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler said he was deeply concerned to hear of civilian casualties. The House of Representatives described Sunday’s attack as cowardly. The government in Beida and the Tripoli administration of Khalifa Ghwell also condemned the air strikes.
Social media today carried pictures purporting to show the wreckage of the MiG-23 lost today and fragments of a bomb casing from yesterday’s raid which appeared to have English writing on it. [/restrict]