A Libyan National Army (LNA) pilot has been released during a prisoner swap after being held by UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) forces since 2019 when he was downed near Tripoli.
— ?????? ????????? (@Ahmed_AlLibi) December 7, 2019
Amer al-Orfi al-Gajam was captured on December 7, 2019, when his MiG-23ML, serial “26144,” crashed near the Yarmouk frontline during the LNA’s offensive against the GNA to capture the capital. Footage that emerged online shortly after the incident showed suspected GNA fighters launching a 9K32 Strela-2 MANPADS at an aircraft that was flying overhead, however, impact could not be seen in the video.
Likewise, photos also emerged online showing wreckage of the aircraft, as well as al-Gajam being held by GNA forces. The LNA released a statement denying that the MiG was shot down by enemy fire, claiming that “ the aircraft went down due to “technical difficulties which forced the pilot to eject and land using a parachute in hostile territory.”
— C4H10FO2P (@markito0171) December 7, 2019
It remains unclear what exact groups of the GNA were involved in the trade at this time, but it is known that al-Gajam was exchanged for 15 prisoners from other anti-LNA elements. Of the 15 prisoners, one has been identified as a commander of the Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade, an al-Qaeda linked Islamic fundamentalist militia from Derna that frequently clashes with Islamic State militants. Likewise, another has been identified as a leader from the Islamist Misrata Brigade, which is active in Tripoli. Both groups, while not directly loyal to the GNA, have been fighting against the LNA.
#Libya-prisoner exchange in Ash Shwayrif sees release of #LNA pilot Major General Amer al-Jagam (supposedly downed December 2019 near Tripoli) for 15 prisoners, including prominent commander from Derna's Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade Yahya al-Usti and al-Zarouk Hadid from Misrata bde pic.twitter.com/Pt5CAFptNY
— Oded Berkowitz (@Oded121351) December 27, 2022