LNA Bombs BDB in Jufra, BDB Downs Helicopter

Feb 14, 2017 | Other Jihadi Actors

On 8 February, the Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesperson warned residents in Hun, Jufra to evacuate a number of positions being used by the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB).  On 9 and 10 February, the LNA launched a string of airstrikes against these positions. Two BDB fighters were reportedly killed and six injured. On 10 February, an LNA Mi35 helicopter was downed approximately 120km south of Ras Lanuf, in the vicinity of the Mabruk oilfield. All three members of the crew were killed. On 11 February, LNA forces clashed with fighters from the BDB near the site of the helicopter crash. A BDB field commander, Ismail al-Tebawi, was killed in the clashes. The LNA reported it destroyed at least 40 of the BDB military vehicles, known as technicals.

On 11 February, a video was published by Bushra media, the media arm of the Benghazi Defense Brigades, showing the downing of the helicopter along with the leader of the BDB force, Col. Mustafa Sharkasi. The incident fuelled angry reactions in eastern Libya. Some pro-Haftar House of Representatives (HoR) members and LNA commanders blamed Italy for shooting down the aircraft, and burnt Italian flags. On 14 February, the BDB published another video showing they still have the pilot’s body, despite a funeral being conducted by the LNA in Ras Lanuf and Marj. The BDB offered to exchange the body for supplies to jihadist fighters in Ganfuda, Benghazi.

On 12 February, an LNA airstrike reportedly killed three Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) fighters in al-Fatieh area, south of Derna. The head of the LNA operations room issued a warning that the DMSC is now using sermons in mosques to agitate against the LNA. On 13 February, the DMSC issued a statement congratulating the BDB on the downing of the LNA helicopter near the oil crescent.