More than 15 people are now believed to be dead after a helicopter carrying civilians, military commanders and sick people crashed off Al-Maya coast, some 27km to the west of Tripoli on Tuesday.

Seven bodies, including senior Al-Zawiya revolutionary fighter and Commander of Al-Zawiya Martyrs Brigade Sohaib Al-Ramah, were recovered. Among the victims is the Commander of Western Military Region Hussien Abu Diya. Search operations for the other bodies are still ongoing, the city's municipal council said.

Spokesperson of the General Staff Ali Al-Shaiekhi said the helicopter was shot down by the so-called Tribes Army. Rescue crews found debris from the crash, which shows signs of an anti-aircraft fire.

Shortly after the crash, heavy fight broke out in Al-Maya between Al-Zawiya brigades and militants of the Tribes Army. There are indications that Wirshiffana would be declared a military zone by the government.

Residents of Al-Zawiya are using helicopters and boats to avoid kidnapping in Wirshiffana region, which is under the control of the Tribes Army.