VIDEO: Libyan Troops, Popular Forces Advance against ISIS Militants in Sirte

Wed Jun 22, 2016 14:54:16

Forces loyal to Libya’s unity government have tightened the noose around ISIS (Daesh / ISIL) terrorists in the northern port city of Sirte, advancing further into the Takfiri group’s stronghold.

Rida Issa, a spokesman for the government-backed brigades, said Tuesday that the forces were securing the “700” neighborhood, just south of central Sirte, and had also made ground to the west of the city center.

A tank belonging to forces aligned with Libya's new unity government is seen on a road as they advance on Sirte, Libya June 10, 2016. © Reuters

Brigades composed mainly of fighters from the western city of Misrata launched a campaign against ISIS 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 added that the forces had also seized a second ammunition store from the terrorists.

Issa said that 16 brigade members had been killed and 60 others wounded in Tuesday's 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.

Fighters from forces aligned with Libya's new unity government clear an area in Zaafran in Sirte, June 11, 2016.

The government forces said that they killed “dozens” of ISIS terrorists during a series of fresh clashes over the past few days.

Figures show at least 170 troops have been killed and hundreds wounded since the start of the high-scale anti-militant offensive last month to capture Sirte, which is located 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of Tripoli.

The UN-backed Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) has been trying to unite Libya's factions since arriving in Tripoli in March, and has created several operations rooms in an effort to coordinate the campaign against ISIS.

Sirte, which fell to the Takfiri terrorists in February 2015, is the government forces’ key target, whose liberation could serve as a boost to stability in the war-ravaged country.

ISIS has been taking advantage of the chaos embroiling Libya since the NATO-backed overthrow and death of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The oil-rich North African country 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 to the country.

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