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Libyan Fighter Jet Downed by Militants Near Benghazi

The military behind Libya’s internationally recognized government—one of two parallel governments currently at war with each other—has reported that another MiG-23 fighter jet has been shot down during air strikes against militants near Benghazi Friday.

According to Libyan military sources cited by media, the MiG was shot down Qaryunes, northwest Benghazi, during an air strike campaign targeting al-Qaeda-linked militants attached to the Shura Council.

The US-based SITE Intelligence Group, however, reports that the Islamic State (ISIS) has specifically claimed responsibility for the attack that brought down the MiG but saw the pilot eject to safety.

Related: Oil Markets Unimpressed By Crude Output Freeze

Earlier last week, another Libyan military MiG crashed near Derna in a separate air strike campaign, though technical difficulties were cited by a news agency close to the recognized government. However, the Shura Council claimed responsibility for the downing of this MiG as well.

Media are now speculating that the Libyan Air Force has no further MiG-23s to dispatch and is facing a critical juncture in its fight against Islamic militants.

In early January, the Libyan Air Force lost another MiG over Benghazi.

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ISIS has been making clear moves to take advantage of the civil war chaos in Libya and has its sights set on Libyan oil.

So far, over the past weeks, ISIS has launched a series of attacks on Libyan oil facilities and taken over the city of Sirte along with hundreds of miles of coastline. Once it cements its hold here and succeeds in recruiting its own oil and gas engineers, it might be able to afford to raise the salary for its foreign fighters.

According to unconfirmed sources, there are some 6,500 ISIS fighters presently operating in Libya and led by a Chechen commander.

By James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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