Forces loyal to Libya unity govt. prepare for final assault on Sirte
Forces loyal to Libya’s unity government are preparing for a final assault on the northern port city of Sirte, the main stronghold of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in the country.
The loyalists with the UN-backed Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said in a statement on Tuesday that fighters were targeting Daesh-held areas of Sirte with heavy artillery as well as “daily” airstrikes.
The militants have deployed snipers and explosive devices to fend off pro-GNA forces, the statement said.
“Despite apparent calm along the fronts, our intelligence network is in full swing in preparation for the decisive battle,” it said, adding, “Daesh fighters are besieged in a small area of Sirte and although they have sought to break out our forces have repelled all attempts.”
Pro-government forces have repelled multiple counter-attacks from the surrounded militants in recent weeks.
The government forces say they have killed “dozens” of Daesh terrorists during a series of fresh clashes over the past 24 hours.
Figures show at least 170 troops have been killed and hundreds wounded since the start of the high-scale anti-militant offensive to capture Sirte, which is located 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of Tripoli.
Sirte, the major stronghold of Daesh outside Iraq and Syria, fell to the Takfiri terrorists in February 2015. The full recapture of the city would be a major boost to the GNA, which has come to office through support from the United Nations.
Daesh 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.