Libyan forces push into last IS-held ar­eas

The Myanmar Times - - World -

FORCES loyal to Libya’s UN-backed unity gov­ern­ment have pushed into the last ar­eas of Sirte held by the Is­lamic State group in what was the ji­hadists’ coastal strong­hold.

The bat­tle for the home­town of Libya’s slain dic­ta­tor Muam­mar Kad­hafi was launched more than three months ago by forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Gov­ern­ment of Na­tional Ac­cord.

IS cap­tured the Mediter­ranean city in June 2015, spark­ing fears they would use it as a launch­pad for at­tacks on Europe.

“The fi­nal bat­tle for Sirte has started,” said Reda Issa, a spoke­spe­son for the pro-GNA forces, as loy­al­ist forces thrust into two dis­tricts of the city.

About 1000 pro-GNA fight­ers were tak­ing part in the of­fen­sive against “dis­trict num­ber one and dis­trict num­ber two”, in north­ern and east­ern Sirte re­spec­tively, he said.

Late on Au­gust 28, a loy­al­ist field com­man­der, Hisham Ab­del Atti, said pro-GNA forces had seized “two-thirds of dis­trict num­ber one and large parts of dis­trict num­ber three”.

The pro-GNA forces said on Face­book the of­fen­sive came “af­ter air strikes overnight” and as they pressed the as­sault the ji­hadists coun­tered with car bombs.

An­a­lysts say that oust­ing the ji­hadists from Libya would be a sym­bolic boost for the coun­try’s frag­ile unity gov­ern­ment, but would not mean an end to un­rest in the North African na­tion.

The IS could launch more scat­tered at­tacks across Libya, they say. –

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