(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
On Sunday, forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) launched an attack against ISIS fighters in Sirte, ending a two-week pause in fighting.
The Libyan military’s media centre posted a statement on their Facebook page reporting that their fighters killed two ISIS suicide bombers before they were able to detonate bombs lodged in the vehicles they were driving.
“Our forces are using heavy artillery to target the positions where Daesh (IS) holdouts are cowering,” said the statement.
The Libyan Government has made it clear to the international community that it will not allow for any foreign troops on the ground to fight alongside its fighters. However, the GNA has approved the support of US airstrikes in addition to the presence of western special forces that have assisted Libyan troops in their advance against ISIS in Sirte.
Field commanders met several times to discuss next steps in the battle against ISIS, said Reda Issa, a spokesperson for the GNA loyal forces.
“Progress is now being achieved and our forces are clashing with Daesh fighters,” Reda said.
After fierce fighting on Sunday, Libyan troops were able to take control of a number of buildings, including a school that ISIS used to make car bombs.
Three GNA loyal soldiers were killed by ISIS fighters in Sunday’s battles, reported a medic stationed at a field hospital located near the border of Sirte.
Issa said that GNA loyal forces had to stop fighting for a short period to figure out how to “to minimise the casualties caused by IS suicide attacks.”
It was difficult for Libyan soldiers to advance on ISIS in the face of suicide bombings and snipers firing from rooftops.
Since Libyan forces launched their offensive in Sirte, over 450 soldiers have been killed and 2,500 were wounded.
Doctors and other medical staff in the nearby hospital in Misrata have had to deal with overcrowding and a lack of resources as they try to treat a large number of injured soldiers requiring immediate treatment.
In addition, the situation in the Misrata hospital has been slowing down the progress of Libyan soldiers. When the hospital is overflowing with injured soldiers, those at the front lines have to pause the fighting so that the hospital can clear patients to make room for the next wave of injured soldiers.
Italy said it is willing to establish a military field hospital in Misrata if the GNA makes a request for one.
“We are planning to deploy around 300 people, 65 doctors and nurses, 135 logistics staff and 100 for the protection of the hospital,” said Roberta Pinotti, the Italian defense minister.
Issa said the effort to set up the field hospital that Italy promised has begun.