Ansar al Sharia claims to have downed jet flying over Derna, Libya

16-02-08 Claims to have shot down a jet

Ansar al Sharia, an al Qaeda-linked group, claims to have shot down a Libyan jet earlier today. The claim of responsibility (seen above) was posted on Twitter feeds maintained by Ansar al Sharia’s propaganda arm (Al Rayah Media) and radio station. The organization says a special air defense brigade was responsible for the jet’s crash, but no other details were provided. Jihadists also tweeted images of the plane’s wreckage (see below).

Libya’s Air Force chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Saqr al-Jaroushi, told the Associated Press (AP) that a plane was in fact shot down. The Libyan MIG32 fighter “was striking the positions of Islamic State militants and other militias in the eastern town of Derna when it came under fire by anti-aircraft guns,” according to the AP. Al-Jaroushi said “the pilot ejected and landed safely.”

Although the Islamic State has grown significantly inside Libya since 2014, Ansar al Sharia’s leadership remains loyal to al Qaeda. The organization operates its own training camps in Derna and elsewhere in Libya. An alliance of jihadist groups known as the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) also maintains an extensive presence in the eastern Libyan city.

The MSC, which was formed in late 2014, opposed the Islamic State’s expansion in Derna. The two sides have repeatedly clashed. In mid-2015, the MSC pushed Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s followers out of their strongholds inside the interior of the city, but the “caliphate” still has cadres of fighters in Derna’s suburbs.

Ansar al Sharia Libya and the MSC are both backed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda’s official branch in North Africa.

Pictures of the Libyan jet Ansar al Sharia claims to have downed:

16-02-08 Libyan jet Ansar al Sharia claims to have downed 2

16-02-08 Libyan jet Ansar al Sharia claims to have downed 1

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

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  • jack says:

    Libyans are presently denying that it was shot down. It was a fairly old plane, and had just been returned to service Feb 1 after major maintenance. The GOL claims the aircraft experienced mechanical failure after conducting airstrikes.

    If it were indeed brought down by anti aircraft artillery as claimed, (rather than a SAM of some type) that would be spectacular bad luck and not much else.

  • Au-Yeong SK says:

    You mean ‘MiG 23’ right? Mikoyan Gurevich built fighters with odd numbers.

  • Dennis Levin says:

    The tail looks like it came from an SU 25 Frogfoot, counterpart of our A 10.

  • Arjuna says:

    Everyone keeps saying government of Libya. Even you, Tom, “Libya’s air force” tsk, tsk. Is this the friendly Libyan air force who outed our D-boys on Twitter and FB? Libya is no longer a country and this “government” is not an actual governing body. Which hotel do they preside over again? The one in Tripoli or the one in Tobruk? ‘Cause it’s definitely not the one in Sirte. That’s Baghdadi’s AO. And if he’s moved Shishani and Adnani both there, then big things are in train.


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