A MiG jet fighter and three other aircraft were destroyed at Misrata airbase this morning in an attack being claimed by the Islamic State.
In response, the Misrata forces carried out an airstrike on a site west of Sirte, at Al-Dahair, where IS are beleived to have a camp.
“The attack occurred at dawn while people were at prayer,” a source close to Misrata Municipal Council said, adding that the attackers had not fired at the aircraft but left a bomb, probably containing C-4 plastic explosive, under one of the planes. The fire had engulfed the other two and then spread to the MiG 25, the source explained.
“Only the Mig 25 was in working order,” he continued. “The other three were malfunctioning and were not being used. But there are other working planes at the airbase, including a Mirage.”
In its announcement claiming responsibilty, IS showed pictures of two people who it said had broken into the airbase and blown up the planes which it claimed had been used to bomb Muslims in Sirte, Nufaliya and Harawa.
How the attackers managed to get into the airbase, which shares the same site as the civil airport, is unknown. An investigation has been set up and video footage is reportedly being examined.
Later this morning, in response to the incident, the Mirage was used to attack an IS camp west of Sirte, the source stated.
The attack is causing serious concern in Misrata. In recent months, IS has accused Misratans of being apostates and “enemies of God” and promised an onslaught of suicide and car bombings in the city. There have been a number of suicide attacks on checkpoints around Misrata, the most recent being at the end of May. For IS to get into a facility that should be completely protected suggests poor either security or growing IS capabilities, or both.