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Libyan forces continue anti-Daesh fight in Sirte

3 August 2016 18:40

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Forces loyal to the Libyan unity government are pushing against Takfiri Daesh terrorists in the northern city of Sirte despite obstacles to their progress such as mines and snipers.

“Our forces… are trying to strengthen their advance with the support of… American air strikes,” Reda Issa, a spokesman for the loyalists to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), said on Wednesday.

The Libyan forces launched a military operation in May to retake Sirte, which fell to Daesh last year.

They managed to enter the city on June 9, and have liberated several residential districts since then. However, their advance slowed as Daesh hit back with sniper fire, car bombs and attacks.

“The battle’s outcome is not settled… But there is no doubt that the presence of effective and accurate weapons will accelerate the end of the battle,” Issa said, adding that some targets in Sirte are difficult to hit “because they are among the houses.”

Italy ready to open airbases for Daesh strikes

In another development on Wednesday, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said his country would likely allow the use of its airbases and airspace for strikes against Daesh in Libya if the US asks for such permission.

“The government is ready to consider positively a request to use airbases and national airspace, and support the operation, if it is believed that it would lead to a more rapid and effective conclusion of the ongoing action,” she said.

On Monday, Washington launched a campaign allegedly targeting Daesh positions in Libya at the request of the Tripoli-based unity government.

Sirte’s recapture would be a major blow to Daesh, which has faced a series of setbacks in Syria and Iraq.


Forces loyal to the Libyan unity government run for cover during a battle with Daesh terrorists in Sirte, Libya, on July 31, 2016. ©Reuters

 

Libya has been dominated by violence since a NATO military intervention followed the 2011 uprising that led to the toppling and killing of the longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

The oil-rich African 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 the unity government last December after months of UN-brokered talks in Tunisia and Morocco to restore order to the country.

Daesh has taken advantage of the political chaos in Libya to increase its presence there.

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