Libya troops retake Sirte area after clashes with terrorists
Forces loyal to the Libyan unity government have wrested control of a district south of the city of Sirte following heavy clashes with Takfiri Daesh terrorists, officials say.
Mohamed Gnaidy, intelligence chief for Misrata forces, told Reuters on Friday that the residential 700 neighborhood was under the control of his troops who are supporting the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
“Residential area 700 has been liberated and as of 6 p.m. the Ouagadougou [conference] center and the hospital are surrounded,” Gnaidy said, adding that airstrikes were carried out on the conference hall.
Misrata forces also hit a hideout of Daesh commanders, he noted without elaborating on how many casualties they suffered or how long it would take to dislodge the remaining militants from Sirte.
The advance came after fierce clashes involving rockets, mortars and gun battles in the region.
According to local officials, three pro-government forces were killed and more than 30 others sustained injuries during Friday’s fighting to recapture the residential 700 district.
Libyan forces launched a military operation in May to retake Sirte, which fell to Daesh in February 2015. They managed to enter the city on June 9 and since then, they have liberated a number of residential districts.
Libya has been dominated by violence since a NATO military intervention followed the 2011 uprising that led to the toppling and killing of longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.
The oil-rich state has had two rival administrations since mid-2014, when militants overran the capital and forced the parliament to flee to the country’s remote east.
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.
Daesh, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq, has taken advantage of the political chaos in Libya to increase its presence there.