US strikes Libya’s Sirte to remove ISIS
Aircraft carry out 36 airstrikes from Friday to Saturday
REUTERS/ US aircraft hit Islamic State targets with more than 30 strikes over the past three days on the Libyan city of Sirte, as pro-government forces push into its last militant-held districts, the US military said on Monday.
Libyan forces are close to ending a six-month campaign to liberate Sirte from Islamic State, which took over the city more than a year after taking advantage of factional infighting that emerged after the fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Forces mostly from nearby Misrata city are pushing ahead street by street, facing snipers and suicide bombers. They are helped by US airstrikes since August and coordination with small teams of Western special forces on the ground.
On Sunday, Libyan forces recaptured the city’s Cambo area, and swept out tunnels used by militants to hide and prepare ambushes, and seized a field hospital. They found charred bodies of militants hit by airstrikes.
A Reuters reporter at the scene said they also came across booby traps using grenades and rocket shells.
“At the moment, the forces are preparing to enter Ghiza Bahriya district,” Rida Essa, a media official with the pro-government forces, said.
US aircraft carried out 36 strikes from Friday to Saturday, mostly on enemy fighting positions but also on a car bomb, according to a US Africa Command statement on Monday.
The loss of Sirte would close down Islamic State’s main stronghold in North Africa and its only base outside Iraq and Syria, just as the militant group comes under pressure in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
Destroyed houses in the Cambo area, which Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government captured from Islamic State militants on Sunday in Sirte