By Saifuddin Trabelsi
SIRTE, Libya (AA) – The bodies of two Libyan pilots killed yesterday when their fighter jet crashed in Libya’s coastal city of Sirte were recovered Thursday, according to government sources and hospital officials in the nearby city of Misrata.
A government fighter jet crashed Wednesday while conducting airstrikes against positions in Sirte held by the Daesh terrorist group, Mohamed al-Ghasri, a spokesman for the Libyan government’s anti-Daesh operations, told Anadolu Agency Wednesday.
Later the same day, Daesh -- speaking via the pro-Daesh Amaq media group -- claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft.
On Thursday, government sources said the bodies of the plane’s two slain pilots had been found in a patch of agricultural land on Sirte’s outskirts.
The sources declined to elaborate.
The downing of the plane is the first incident of its kind since Libya’s UN-backed unity government launched a campaign in May aimed at retaking Sirte, which was captured by Daesh in 2015.
Libya has been wracked by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
Following the uprising, the country’s stark political divisions yielded two rival seats of government, one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli.
In an effort to resolve the ensuing political standoff, Libya’s rival governments signed a UN-sponsored agreement late last year establishing a unity government based in Tripoli.