Libyan forces retake two towns from Daesh near Sirte

Published June 1st, 2016 - 07:48 GMT
Residents of the Daesh-ravaged Sirte. (AFP/File)
Residents of the Daesh-ravaged Sirte. (AFP/File)

Forces aligned with Libya’s new Government of National Accord (GNA) have pushed Daesh out of two towns within a matter of two days.

On Tuesday, the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) took control of Nawfiliyah, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the northern city of Sirte, which is the militant group’s stronghold in Libya.

The PFG captured the nearby town of Ben Jawad on Monday after clashes that killed five of its troopers.

Before the recent advancement, other GNA-tied military brigades had driven Daesh back to the outskirts of Sirte from the west.

Also on Tuesday, the government announced the establishment of an operations room to command the battle against Daesh on the coastal stretch between the eastern town of Ajdabiya and Sirte, which includes the PFG-controlled oil terminals of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf.

Daesh captured Sirte in June 2015 before pushing its way outward across the Mediterranean coast, and attacking the terminals in January.

Last month, the New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report cataloging the atrocities carried out by the terrorist group in the city.

It contained “scenes of horror” described by the witnesses as they recounted Daesh brutalities dating back to February 2015, including the beheadings of dozens of residents accused by the group of espionage.

The group has relied on the chaos the country has been embroiled in since the NATO-backed overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi back in 2011.

Libya has had two rival governments since 2014, when politician Khalifa Ghweil and his self-proclaimed government seized control of the capital, Tripoli, with the support of militia groups, forcing the internationally-recognized government to move to the country’s remote eastern city of Tobruk.

The two governments achieved a consensus on forming a unity government, the GNA, last December after months of UN-brokered talks in Tunisia and Morocco to restore order in the country.

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