The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) announced that Albinyan Almarsous (Operation Strong Foundation) forces continued to make progress against ISIS militants in Sirte after fierce battles against the extremist group on Tuesday resulting in the deaths of 18 Libyan soldiers.
“Our force continued encircling Daesh criminals inside Sirte, who have been desperately seeking to run off the battle. However, determination of our heroes gave them no hope to escape,” said a statement on the operations room Facebook page.
The advances resulted in the deaths of dozens of ISIS fighters, and a loss of control over the official radio broadcast, the city’s electricity department and Bin Hamal Mosque and parts of an area known as 700.
According to a GNA spokesperson, these are the final battle days for ISIS in Sirte and hopefully Libya entirely.
On Sunday, ISIS fighters failed in their attempts to fight back against unity government forces. ISIS’s attempts at retaliating against GNA-backed forces with suicide bombings have resulted in the death of 9 Libyan soldiers. There were reports that ISIS was using weapons that were considered to be “medium-sized”.
The Albinyan Almarsous forces attempts to get further into the city were made more difficult by ISIS fighters using residential areas as hideouts. But recently progress has been made with the GNA-backed forces’ artillery team successful bombing of an ammunition depot and other strategic locations. With the help of their technical support team, the GNA-backed forces were able to override the ISIS radio channel to send their own “counter-ISIS message” in addition to their air force dropping leaflets warning civilians to stay away from battle areas.
“The pro-government forces are advancing cautiously because ISIS fighters are barricaded inside homes and we are trying to avoid using heavy artillery to spare civilians who could also be inside,” said Reda Issa, a spokesman for the Libyan military.
“Our forces confronted them and forced them to retreat,” said Issa.
According to Issa, there were two fatalities on Sunday in addition to five wounded from the clashes that occurred in the area known as Al-Ghrebat sector in Sirte.
The GNA-backed forces will now be working to “bolster their positions on the outskirts of Sirte to re-inforce the siege and provoke ISIS fighters to come out of hiding,” says Issa.
The Albinyan Almarsous operation have reported that they have been able to gather intelligence in preparation for the final battle.