Libya’s UN-backed gov’t forces announce shooting down aircraft of eastern-based army

The Haftar-led army is allied with Libya's eastern-based government. The politically divided North African country has been struggling to make a democratic transition amid clashes and chaos since the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi's government in 2011.

Forces of Libya’s UN-backed government on Wednesday announced shooting down an aircraft belonging to the rival eastern-based army near the city of Sabratha, some 70 km west of the capital Tripoli.

“A fighter jet of Haftar’s militias (eastern-based army) has been targeted west of Sabratha. The aircraft tried to return to Al-Watyah air base, but fell because it was hit accurately,” Field Commander of the UN-backed government’s forces, Ahmad Abu-Shahma, said in a statement.

The statement also said that positions of the eastern-based army were targeted in southern Tripoli and a number of the eastern-based army troops were captured.

The eastern-based army has been leading a military campaign since early April to take over Tripoli and overthrow the UN-backed government.

The fighting has killed and injured thousands of people, and forced nearly 120,000 civilians to flee their homes away from the conflict.

The eastern-based army, led by Khalifa Haftar, is allied with the eastern-based government, as Libya is politically divided between eastern and western governments, both competing for dominance.