An explosives expert dismantling bombs made by ISIS militants on Friday
The operations room for Albinyan Almarsous (Operation Strong Foundation) said on Saturday that Libyan forces had finishing sweeping the area for any hidden mines or explosives left by ISIS fighters in Wadi Alloud and Abu Najaim town southwest of Sirte.
Libyan troops are currently stationed around all three frontlines in preparation for a large scale battle against ISIS held Sirte, including along the coastal road, sea front, and river road.
Government of National Accord (GNA) forces called it the “battle of the Martyrs of Sadada” to commemorate the four soldiers who died during a surprise ISIS suicide attack at the Sadada checkpoint, 80 kilometres south of Misrata, two weeks ago.
On May 5, ISIS militants overran the Abu Grein checkpoint and took control of several villages in the area. In response to the attack, the GNA established a joint military operation room in Misrata to battle against ISIS militants based in Sirte.
Military spokesman Mohamed al-Gasri said that after advancing along the road west of Sirte on Friday, Libyan forces were able to secure control of a steam plant 15 kilometres from Sirte, as well as a road leading south from Sirte to Waddan, reported Reuters.
The operations room media center reported that, with the assistance of the air force, Libyan forces advanced to the 50 kilometres checkpoint and soon after moved further and took control of the checkpoint 30 kilometres from Sirte.
In addition, Libyan troops were able to take control of the Al-Khaleej steam station after destroying two armed vehicles.
“Our forces burnt two vehicles filled with machine guns when they entered Al-Khaleej steam power plant, yet two ISIS militants’ vehicles managed to make an escape leaving behind almost 30 bodies.”
Al-Gasri stated that “the next step is to encircle Sirte, and then we will ask the residents to try to leave.”
“We don’t want to enter now because of the residents. But if it becomes a battlefield we can enter within hours.”
Gasri expressed that Libyan forces would be able to defeat the extremist group this time because “there is an internationally recognized government that has pledged to support the army to fight ISIS.”
Since the beginning of Operation Strong Foundation in early May, 75 Libyan soldiers have been killed and 350 injured in clashes against ISIS militants.
Al-Khaleej Power Plant near Sirte