Forces loyal to Libya’s Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar claim they recently shot down a plane operated by an Ecuadorian mercenary fighting for the UN-backed Government of National Accord.
The spokesman for the Field Marshal’s Libyan National Army, which is trying to wrest control of Tripoli from the GNA, named the man as Borys Reyes. Ahmed Mismari, the LNA official, shared photos of the parachute, the pilot’s nametag and an archived photo supposedly showing Mr Reyes. It is unclear what the fate of the latter is.
Mr Mismari said the LNA had long know that foreign forces would be used against it amid its offensive on western Libya.
The Mirage F1 jet was supposedly shot down three days ago near Al Watiyah airbase in Western Libya, which is under the LNA’s control.
An LNA official did not respond to enquiries for further confirmation of Mr Reyes’s identity.
As the LNA’s assault on the capital rumbles on, both sides have accused each other of using foreign mercenaries. They also have employed heavy weapons that have taken down each others planes.
On Thursday night Mr Mismari released seven videos on his Twitter page claiming to show “foreign armed men” fighting alongside Tripoli’s militias. It was impossible to verify if they were legitimate or old footage – but soldiers from other countries on both sides have been known to support Libyan forces in the battle to defeat ISIS.
Some 260 are reported to have died since the LNA launched its attack on Tripoli. Front-lines have shifted rapidly amid the fog of war and social media claims, but it does appear that the GNA has succeeded in recent days at pushing the LNA backwards at some southern Tripoli hotspots.