(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj called on all Libyans on Tuesday to rally behind forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) battling against ISIS in the coastal city of Sirte.
In a televised statement Sarraj said, “we bless the victories of our sons on the front lines… in the fight to liberate Sirte and cleanse it of (ISIS).”
Sarraj said that the advances made by the Libyan army in the fight against ISIS should be a model for “a national initiative to fight terrorism.”
The GNA established a joint operations room in May to battle against ISIS in the region between the western city of Misrata and ISIS stronghold Sirte, and called on all Libyans to stand against the ISIS threat plaguing the country by uniting under a centralized military force.
“The lack of a united military front is not allowing us to bring an end to this terrorist activity once and for all,” said Sarraj in May.
A second operations room was established in the eastern city of Ajdabiya two weeks ago in the area between Ajdabiya and Sirte to facilitate the military campaign against ISIS in the east, including the oil terminals Ras Lanuf and Es Sider.
The Petroleum Facilities Guard (PGF) have been advancing on ISIS in the east and last week took control of several small villages, including the town of Harawa, 70 kilometres east of Sirte.
Currently Albinyan Almarsos (Operation Strong Foundation) forces in the west have besieged ISIS militants in a 5 kilometer area in Sirte, and have faced a multitude of suicide bombing and sniper attacks by ISIS fighters.
In addition, last week, the Special Anti-terrorist Force and the Military Intelligence Brigade, who were once allied with General Khalifa Haftar, have joined the unity government in their fight against ISIS held Sirte.
While the GNA has been able to get the support of several important armed groups in Libya, it has yet to gain the support of General Khalifa Haftar and his forces.
Haftar continues to refuse calls to integrate his militia under a unified command structure headed by the Presidential Council (PC) in order to defeat ISIS from Sirte, and instead has waged a war against Islamists and his opponents in Benghazi and Derna for his own personal gains.