‘Portuguese pilot’ shot down in Mirage jet by General Haftar’s forces in Libya – reports
Photos posted on social media show a bloodied man in military-style clothes without any distinctive badges surrounded by forces said to be loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army (LNA).
Citing Haftar’s forces that sent her the photos, the Independent’s Middle East correspondent Bel Trew said the man was a “foreign national” from Portugal. While Trew chose to crop out the man’s face, plenty of uncensored photos have emerged elsewhere from the same scene.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army just sent me photos of a plane crash & a foreign national in pilot clothes with head injuries. LNA says few hours ago they shot down his Mirage F1 fighter jet&he is from Portugal. In this photo he is with LNA commander Maj Gen AbdulSalam Hassi #Libyapic.twitter.com/hldjtxdkVI— Bel Trew (@Beltrew) May 7, 2019
The pilot was allegedly captured after his jet was shot down over the Wadi al-Hira area, located south of the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Earlier, there were conflicting reports about his nationality, with some media outlets claiming he was an Italian. The LNA Military Information Division has since claimed he was a “Portuguese mercenary.”
Footage also surfaced on social media showing the pilot giving his alleged name and nationality during questioning. He appeared to claim that his name was “Jimmy Rees,” adding that he was 29-years-old and “from Portugal.”
The Libyan National Army (LNA) captures 29-year-old Jimmy Reiss, a Portuguese mercenary pilot, who was flying a Mirage F1 warplane of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) before it was shot down by LNA this morning.#Libya#LibyaNews#LNA#GNA#Tripolipic.twitter.com/LgSxvNA22R— The Libyan Address Journal (@LibyanAddressJo) 7 мая 2019 г.
Portuguese MPs in the European Parliament have already reacted to the reports. Ana Maria Gomes, an MEP from the Socialist Party, retweeted some of the photos while asking “which forces the Portuguese man is serving?”
Reports say the captured pilot was flying a French-designed Dassault Mirage F1 jet. Libyan forces had 38 of the jets since the late 1970s, and France agreed to modernize the remaining fleet in 2012 after the NATO-backed war toppled Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and threw the country into civil war chaos.
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