Libyan forces battling to retake the town of Sirte from Islamic State insurgents said on Wednesday that they had made significant gains. The forces reported that they had gained control of a large convention center used as a base by the insurgents.
‘‘Our forces have complete control of the whole Ouagadougou (convention) complex – they even advanced some distance beyond the complex,’‘ spokesperson of the forces’ media office, Rida Issa is quoted by Reuters to have said.
Beside the convention center, he also confirmed that the forces captured Sirte’s hospital and university complex from IS who have been recording combat losses to forces allied to the internationally recognized government based in Tripoli.
Our forces have complete control of the whole Ouagadougou (convention) complex – they even advanced some distance beyond the complex.
The forces launched the offensive to retake Sirte on May 12. On June 9, they entered the town held by IS for over a year. They were hampered by the strong resistance of the jihadists who fought back mainly using car suicide bombings.
The government recently confirmed that they had sought the assistance of the United States through airstrikes to help in fighting the insurgents. They was however outrage at the fact that French forces were secretly operating in the country.
Their activities came to light after three French soldiers were killed in a helicopter mission in Libya, following which the spokesperson of the government, Stephane Le Foll, confirmed that France had special forces operating in the north African country.
Since the beginning of operations, about 250 members of government forces have been killed and over 1,400 wounded, according to medical sources in Misrata (200 km east of Tripoli), seat of the command of the military operation.
The IS had taken advantage of the chaos in which Libya was plunged since the fall of Muammar al Gaddafi to seize Sirte in June 2015. Gaddafi was ousted by French forces after a popular uprising in the north African country.