In the late hours of April 10, the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced that it had shot down an IL-39 warplane of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). According to the LNA media office, the warplane was shot down by the 166th Brigade, when it was flying over the outskirts of the capital Tripoli.
The warplane reportedly took off from Misrata airbase, east of Tripoli. This airbase is the headquarters of the GNA’s air force, which reportedly operates nine IL-39 Albatros trainers / light attack warplanes among other aircraft. According to the available data, the IL-39 was downed with an anti-aircraft gun, such as the ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft twin-barreled autocannon, which is currently actively employed by both sides of the conflict.
Last week, when GNA jets started carrying out strikes on advancing LNA units, the LNA declared a no-fly zone over the western part of the country. Nonetheless, the April 10 incident became the first example of a real action against GNA air power undertaken by LNA forces. The LNA is known to be operating at least one Soviet-made 2K12 Kub medium-range air-defense system, as well as a variety of man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs). This is far from being enough to impose a real no-fly zone across the region, but LNA units equipped with anti-aircraft gun and MANPADs would pose a significant threat to the small and largely outdated GNA air power.
At the same time, the LNA continued its advance on Tripoli. Its forces captured the bases of the 42nd Battalion and the 4th Brigade south of the city. The first base is located near the town of Ain Zara. The second is near the town of Aziziya. According to reports, the LNA destroyed several GNA vehicles and captured loads of weapons and ammunition on the scene. LNA units also re-entered the area of Tripoli International Airport where intense fighting is now ongoing. At least one GNA airstrike on LNA forces was reported in the town of Qasr bin Ghashir.
While the LNA has not achieved a rapid and decisive victory over pro-GNA forces in Tripoli, the developments of the last few days have demonstrated that a coalition of pro-GNA militias is incapable of pushing LNA forces back from the city along the entire frontline. In the medium term, this means that the LNA has every chance of isolating the capital from the rest of the pro-GNA areas. This development would be a significant blow to the defenders of Tripoli, would prepare the way for further offensive operations and would strengthen the negotiating position of the LNA leadership.