Libyan unity government forces are hoping for more US airstrikes to help them retake the coastal city of Sirte, which ISIL militants seized last year.
Troops loyal to the UN-backed administration launched a ground offensive to dislodge ISIL in May, and this week the United States chipped in with precision air strikes against jihadist targets.
Losing Sirte would be a huge blow for ISIL, already under pressure from U.S.-backed campaigns in Syria and Iraq. For now, using snipers, mines and car bombs, the militant group still controls four neighbourhoods in the city.
U.S. precision strike against ISIS tank in Sirte, Libya https://t.co/cLfkCwYsWC— Military Times (@MilitaryTimes) August 4, 2016
U.S. strikes easing advance against Islamic State in Sirte, says commander https://t.co/gixHqVTp05— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 3, 2016
The Libyan National unity government based in Tripoli has asked for the help, and specifically called on the US to hit ISIL’s underground stores in Sirte Meanwhile, its own forces are trying to retake a strategic road and several neighbourhoods, advancing house by house.
An army spokesman said the key places held by the group calling itself Islamic State are around the city’s Ouagadougou conference centre, thought to hide major underground stores containing tanks, car bombs and rocket launchers.
The army forces fighting in Sirte are mainly composed of brigades from the nearby city of Misrata. Many of them are former rebels who fought in the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi five years ago. At least 350 brigade members have been killed and more than 1,500 wounded since May.
Almost all of Sirte’s 80,000 residents have fled, and the streets are largely deserted.
Even with aid of U.S. airstrikes against ISIS stronghold in Sirte, battle in Libya is expected to be long: https://t.co/QWc8b3jIEf— WSJ Think Tank (@WSJThinkTank) August 3, 2016