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7 May, 2019 12:59

‘Portuguese pilot’ shot down in Mirage jet by General Haftar’s forces in Libya – reports

‘Portuguese pilot’ shot down in Mirage jet by General Haftar’s forces in Libya – reports

The pilot of a fighter jet shot down south of Tripoli by the Libyan National Army is allegedly a Portuguese fighting in Libya as a “mercenary,” Haftar’s forces claim, as photos of the captured pilot covered in blood emerge online.

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.

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.”

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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