Libyan forces preparing to fully retake Sirte from Daesh
Forces loyal to the Libyan unity government say they are preparing for a final “decisive” push to fully liberate the Daesh-held city of Sirte, in a months-long operation which has seen hundreds of troops dead.
The forces, mainly brigades from the city of Misrata, said on Saturday that the Sirte recapture is imminent as they have managed to bring most of the city under their control and restrict militants to a shrinking residential area in the city center.
“We are now preparing for the decisive phase (battle) which will commence in the coming hours, God willing, against the infidels to rid our beloved city from the Daesh,” a local military commander said.
Meanwhile, a Reuters video showed the Libyan troops visiting newly retaken areas and facilities and monitoring the neighborhoods still controlled by the Daesh elements.
An unnamed medical source in the Misrata Central Hospital said that the Sirte clashes have left 442 Libyan forces dead and 2,100 others injured so far.
Back in May, the loyalists to the UN-backed Government of National Accord launched a military operation to retake the city a year after it fell to Daesh.
They entered the city on June 9, and have liberated several residential districts since then. However, their advance slowed as Daesh hit back with sniper fire, bombings and mines.
Sirte’s recapture would be a major blow to Daesh, which has faced a spate of setbacks in Syria and Iraq.
Libya has been grappling with violence since a NATO military intervention followed the 2011 uprising that led to the toppling and killing of the longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.
In mid-2014 militants overran the Libyan capital and forced the parliament to flee to the country’s remote east, resulting in the formation of two rival administrations in the oil-rich African state.
The two governments finally achieved a consensus on forming the unity government last December after months of UN-brokered talks in Tunisia and Morocco to restore order to the country.