Forces loyal to Libya’s unity government have tightened the noose around Daesh militants in the northern port city of Sirte, advancing further into the group’s stronghold.
Rida Issa, a spokesman for the government-backed brigades, said the forces were securing the “700” neighborhood, just south of central Sirte, and had also made ground to the west of the city center.
Brigades composed mainly of fighters from the western city of Misrata launched a campaign against Daesh a month ago, advancing rapidly towards Sirte from the west.
“Our forces are combing the 700 neighborhood after fierce clashes,” Issa said. “The electricity company headquarters, TV and radio building, Number 2 neighborhood, and Bin Hamel mosque are all recaptured.”
He said the forces had also seized a second ammunition store from Daesh fighters, while 16 brigade members had been killed and 60 others wounded in the clashes.
Pro-government forces have repelled multiple counter-attacks from the surrounded militants in recent weeks as they are preparing for a final assault on Sirte.
The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, has been trying to unite Libya's factions since arriving in Tripoli in March. It has created several operations rooms in an effort to coordinate the campaign against Daesh.
Sirte, which fell to Daesh in February 2015, is the government forces’ key target, whose liberation could serve as a boost to stability in the war-ravaged country.
Daesh has been taking advantage of the chaos embroiling Libya since the NATO-backed overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The oil-rich North African country has had two rival governments since 2014.
Libyan politician Khalifa Ghweil's self-proclaimed government has seized the control of the capital with the support of militia groups, forcing the internationally-recognized government to move to the remote eastern city of Tobruk.
Last December, the two governments achieved a consensus on forming a unity government, the GNA, after months of UN-brokered talks in Tunisia and Morocco.
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