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Libyan National Army identifies mercenary pilot

26 April 2019
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The pilot of one of the aircraft that has been shot down by the Libyan National Army (LNA) was an Ecuadorian mercenary, Ahmed al-Mismari, the spokesman for the faction announced in a press conference on 25 April.

One of the two Mirage F1s that were flown to Malta in 2011, then subsequently operated out of Mistratah Air Base. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)One of the two Mirage F1s that were flown to Malta in 2011, then subsequently operated out of Mistratah Air Base. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)

Led by the former general Khalifa Haftar, the LNA is currently attempting to capture Tripoli from an alliance of militias aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), with both sides claiming to be the country’s legitimate authority and denouncing the other as insurgents.

“We announced yesterday that an airplane was hit over [the] Al-Jufra area, we have downed another plane,” he said, according to the English translation during the press conference. “The second plane was downed over [the] Al-Watiyah area and was found 20 km east. We also found the ejection seat and the name tags for the pilot.”

He displayed a video of the wreckage, saying it was a Mirage F1, as well as images purportedly showing the ejection seat and an Ecuadorian Air Force badge with the name Borys Reyes that was supposedly found on the seat. He also showed what he said was an archive photograph of Reyes.

Mismari said the pilot survived but indicated that he was not held by the LNA, which he said was tracking the Ecuadorian’s location and efforts to extract him.

After the LNA claimed it shot down a fighter over Al-Watiyah Air Base on 23 April, some observers claimed photographs of the wreckage showed it was the Mirage F1 numbered 402 that was previously seen in service with the LNA.

In the press conference, Mismari denied the claim, saying the aircraft that was shot down was numbered 403. He showed a video showing 402 at a location he said was the LNA’s Beninia Air Base outside Benghazi.

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