As Haftar meets Sisi, GNA forces shoot down LNA fighter jet

Clay Curtis
April 14, 2019

Aguila Saleh, who heads the eastern parliament - a rival of the interntionally-recognised government in Tripoli - said on Saturday that forces loyal to Haftar will continue their assault on the capital.

A Libyan fighter loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) fires a machine gun during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar south of the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara, on April 10, 2019.

Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said LNA sources confirmed one of the forces' fighter jets was shot down but added the pilot had "escaped" after using a parachute to eject from the unit.

While some pro-Haftar media had predicted a quick victory, Tripoli government forces have halted him about 11 km (7 miles) from the center near an airport that was largely destroyed in a previous bout of fighting five years ago.

The army, led by General Khalifa Haftar, is allied with the eastern-based government, as the country is politically divided between western and eastern governments.

Haftar's push on the capital threatens to further destabilise the oil-rich country, however, and reignite a full-blown civil war.

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Reports suggest the plane skidded off the runway to the right and hit the helicopter as it landed from Kathmandu . Hoards of people gathered around the aircraft wreckage following the crash as debris was strewn on the ground.

As well as fighting on the ground, the two sides have launched daily air raids and accuse each other of targeting civilians.

The United Nations' office for humanitarian affairs said more than 13,500 people had been displaced by the clashes, while more than 900 residents are living in shelters.

The meeting was scheduled to bring Haftar and al-Serraj together in the southwestern town of Ghadames on April 14-16.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday met in Cairo with Khalifa Haftar, the commander of eastern-based Libyan forces, who is under global pressure to halt an advance on the capital Tripoli.

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates publicly support U.N. -led peace efforts in Libya, while being seen as Haftar's closest regional allies.

"President Sisi stressed Egypt's support for the efforts of counter-terrorism and fighting the extremist groups and militants to achieve security and stability in Libya", Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said in the statement. "No matter how obstinate one becomes, there is no solution except a political one".

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