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Libyan forces report further progress against ISIS holdouts in Sirte

4 September 2016 13:55

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Libyan pro-government forces walk next to their vehicle mounted with a machine gun on May 18, 2016 in Abu Grein, south of Libya's third city Misrata, a day after Libya's unity government recaptured the area from the Islamic State (IS) group. four of the Bodies of The organization of the Islamic State (Daash) in a truck in Abu Qurayn About 300 km east of the Libyan capital Tripoli , on May 18, 2016. The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) forces said on Facebook that they recaptured  Abu Grein strategic crossroads, where the coastal highway meets the main road south into the desert interior on May 17, 2016.  / AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD TURKIA

Libyan forces said they had advanced against some of Islamic State’s last holdouts in Sirte on Saturday as fighting resumed after several days of relative calm.

The forces, which are aligned with Libya’s U.N.-backed government, launched their campaign to recapture the city in May and have been aided by dozens of U.S. air strikes since the beginning of August.

Forces made up mostly of fighters from Misrata, 230 km (145 miles) to the north west, now say they are in the final stages of their campaign to oust Islamic State from its former North African stronghold.

But they have faced stiff resistance from militants holed up in a slowly shrinking residential area in the center of the coastal city, who have defended themselves with car bombs, sniper fire, mines and shelling.

On Saturday the forces said they had captured several buildings between Sirte’s neighborhoods Number One and Number Three, and had destroyed an Islamic State car bomb before it could reach its target, according to updates posted online.

At least seven fighters were killed and 30 wounded, and the bodies of 10 Islamic State militants were found in a school building, they said.

Losing Sirte would be a major blow for Islamic State, which won total control of the city more than a year ago, using it as an important base for Libyan and foreign fighters.

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