(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
On Thursday, Libyan forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) continued their advance against ISIS in Sirte, successfully taking control of 25 houses used by the terrorist group.
One Libyan soldier was killed and three others were wounded, said Rida Issa, a spokesman for the Albunyan Almarsos forces fighting ISIS in Sirte. Issa added that there are about 70 houses that are still under the control of ISIS fighters.
The Libyan brigades were recently able to corner ISIS fighters in a small area in central Sirte, not far from the Mediterranean Sea. Support from US airstrikes have helped Libyan soldiers advance on the terrorist group at a time when ISIS suicide attacks, snipers and mines were slowing the forces down.
“According to our information there are still civilians including women and children inside,” said Mohamed Al-Gasri, a spokesperson for the GNA loyal forces, to a local news channel.
Al-Gasri emphasizes that “the instructions are not to rush in, in order to limit the damage.”
Groups of civilians, some of which were refugees from sub-Saharan Africa, were able to flee ISIS or were released by the militants. The actual number of civilians and ISIS fighters remaining in the area are surrounded by the Libyan brigades.
A Libyan commander estimated that at least 400 ISIS fighters managed to escape Sirte, raising concerns that the terrorist group might try to establish a new base in Libya or elsewhere in North Africa or even Europe.