Libyan forces advance in DAESH-held Sirte

Forces loyal to Government of National Accord have been trying to push DAESH from the city for weeks

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Fighters from Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government take position during a battle with DAESH in Sirte, Libya August 21, 2016.

Libyan unity government forces, backed by US air strikes, have recaptured more ground from DAESH stronghold Sirte, in a renewed push to flush out the terrorist outfit from the coastal city.

"Our forces have retaken the internal security building used as a prison by DAESH as well as a courthouse, the Al-Naga district and Dubai Street," the operations centre for forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) said.

A statement said forces advanced in the area following clashes that lasted throughout Sunday, where DAESH sniper positions were "neutralised" in two US air strikes and two booby trapped cars were destroyed. 

Fighters from Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government take position during a battle with DAESH terrorists in Sirte, Libya August 21, 2016.

A spokesman for the government’s ongoing anti-DAESH campaign, Mohamed al-Ghosri said they have advanced into neighborhood Number One, a major DAESH stronghold in the city.

“The fighting is accompanied by airstrikes against DAESH positions in neighborhood Number Three, another DAESH stronghold,” he told Anadolu Agency.

DAESH militants are now reportedly surrounded in Sirte’s central residential area.

Pro-GNA forces, backed by US air strikes since the start of August, began an assault in mid-May to expel DAESH from the city.

The terrorist group seized control of the city, which had been the hometown of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in June 2015.

Pro-GNA forces say only the families of DAESH members resides in the city, and others have been pushed out by the terrorist group.

A Libyan man checks a building used by DAESH after it was captured by Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government, in Sirte, Libya August 22, 2016.

More than 350 pro-GNA fighters have been killed and nearly 2,000 wounded in the battle, according to medical sources. Number of DAESH casualties is unknown. 

As of Thursday, the US had carried out 65 air strikes over Sirte, according to US Africa Command, most recently against a supply truck, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and three enemy fighting positions.

Libya has remained in a state of turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of Gaddafi.

Since then, the country’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government, one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli.

Late last year, Libya’s rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement to establish a unity government in an effort to resolve the country’s ongoing political standoff.

TRTWorld and agencies