Libyan forces push into last IS-held areas
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. –