Rebel militia under the command of Libya’s renegade general Khalifa Haftar claim to have shot down two Turkish drones in the skies over the North African country.
Ahmed Mismari, a spokesman for Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), claimed on Wednesday that the forces had downed one of the unmanned aerial vehicles over an airbase in western Libya near the Tunisian border and the other over a district located in the southeastern part of the capital, Tripoli.
“LNA air defense forces have downed two Turkish drones. The first one was downed over the Okba Ibn Nafa airbase, the second one over the southeastern part of the capital, the Ain Zara district,” Mismari wrote on his Facebook page.
Fighting has in recent days intensified near Libya’s capital, which is the seat of the country’s internationally-recognized government. Tripoli receives backing mainly from Turkey.
Since April last year, rebel forces under Haftar’s command have been fighting in an offensive to capture Tripoli and unseat the government. They have remained bogged down on the city’s outskirts despite receiving support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
On March 21, Haftar claimed full adherence to a humanitarian truce that focused on efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the African country, but his forces continued violating the ceasefire and bombing various locations in the capital.
The breach compelled the Libyan government to launch an operation on March 25 to push the rebels back.
Reports said last week that government forces had downed three Sukhoi fighter jets operated by the rebels.
Libya plunged into chaos in 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged in the North African country — the United Nations (UN)-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli, and another group based in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by Haftar’s rebels.