(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Forces loyal to the Libyan unity government based in Tripoli (GNA) said they were able to intercept and prevent three attempted car bombings by ISIS fighers in Sirte on Thursday.
The Libyan soldiers, most of whom are from Misrata, have been in the process of taking back control of Sirte neighbourhood by neighbourhood with the assistance of US airstrikes which began August 1.
Nine soldiers were killed in Thursday’s clashes with ISIS and over 40 were wounded, said Akram Gilwan, a spokesperson for the Misrata hospital. GNA loyal brigades said that 10 bodies of ISIS fighters were recovered.
Tanks fired at ISIS positions in yesterday’s battle followed by mortars and anti-aircraft guns, according to a witness. ISIS fighters fought back with sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
Rida Issa, a spokesperson for the Libyan army, said Thursday’s clashes split up ISIS fighters. “Now the Daesh (ISIS) militants are separated and trapped by our forces in two different areas,” he said.
Two of the car bombs that were intercepted were neutralized before they reached their targets and an airstrike hit the third car bomb, said Issa, who did not clarify if the US or Libyan planes fired the air strike.
The forces fighting ISIS are supported by the UN but say that that the UN has been slow in delivering assistance. Libyan fighters have been using outdated weapons and ammunition and do not have adequate fighting gear, protective clothing or armoured vehicles.
Since launching their offensive on ISIS in May, the GNA loyal forces have lost over 500 soldiers and over 2,000 others were wounded by suicide bombings, sniper fire and improvised explosive devices.