Libyan forces continue to make headway against Daesh

Published August 15th, 2016 - 08:00 GMT
Pro government forces fire towards Daesh militants' positions in residential district two on August 14, 2016 in Sirte. (AFP/File)
Pro government forces fire towards Daesh militants' positions in residential district two on August 14, 2016 in Sirte. (AFP/File)

Forces loyal to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) tightened the noose around the Daesh militants in Sirte Sunday as they continue to push the militants out of their stronghold in the country.

The GNA forces, armed with machine guns and light weapons, closed in on the residential district where the militants have fled.

The forces also seized fresh ground in the residential district two along with a radio station, employed by Daesh. 

The pro-government forces achieved a major breakthrough against rebel militants on August 10, when they recaptured the Ouagadougou conference center, used by Daesh as a command center.

Sirte's mayor, Mokhtar Khalifa, said on August 11 that “70 percent” of the city had been liberated.

Colonel Mohammed al-Ghasri, the official spokesman for Sirte military operations, said on the same day that Daesh no longer had the military strength to resist Libyan forces in the city after the capture of Ouagadougou conference center.

Forces allied with the UN-backed GNA began the offensive against the militant group in May to retake the city, which lies some 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli.

The pro-government forces entered the city in June, but their advance was slowed down as Daesh hit back with sniper fire, car bombs and counterattacks.

According to medical sources in the city of Misrata, where the operation's command center is based, over 300 people have been killed in the clashes and some 1,800 others have been injured.

Foreign forces from several Western countries, including the United States, France and Britain, are also in Libya in a purported fight against Daesh.

In February, a US airstrike targeted a Daesh training camp near Sabratha, west of the Libyan capital, leaving about 50 people dead. The GNA has denounced the presence of foreign troops, saying it violates Libya's sovereignty.

Libya has been struggling to contain Islamic extremist militants, who have been expanding their presence in the country following the overthrow and death of longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011.

Taking advantage of the chaos in the country, Daesh took control of Sirte in June 2015, nearly four months after it declared presence in the city.

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material

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