Saturday, August 27, 2016

Last Islamic State forces in Libyan stronghold of Sirte being cleared out

The media office of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (Solid Structure or BAM) said that its forces are advancing into residential areas one and five, the last areas in which Islamic State(IS) forces are still hiding out in Sirte — their last stronghold in Libya.

BAM forces are mainly brigades from the city of Misrata and are loyal to the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA). The Libya Observer reports that BAM had occupied key positions including the Al-Ribatt Mosque, Sahara Bank and headquarters of Al-Hisbah, and the building of the former security agency used as a jail by IS. They also took over many housing units, the Sirte polyclinic and the insurance building.
A number of tweets confirm the advances. One tweet claims: "Misrata-led forces retake #Sirte Polyclinic from #ISIS". Another tweet notes that an IS leader was captured while trying to flee Sirte: ‏"@alwasatengnews #ISIS leader Mohamed Raheel Werfali captured east of #Sirte while attempting to flee. #Libya "
Media sources claim: “Many IS militants were caught including women after storming into IS field hospital and other locations.” Mistrata hospital reported that 11 dead BAM fighters had been received along with 97 wounded as the battle continues to exact a heavy toll on the fighters. A tweet reports slightly different casualties: "Casualties continue in Sirte #Libya: 11 killed and about 80 injured today in Bunyan Marsous/Misrata-led forces against #ISIS/Daesh. " Another report claims just ten were killed and 17 wounded. However, there now remain only a few IS fighters stranded in a few streets in residential areas one and five. The IS state is expected to resort to terror attacks and guerrilla-type warfare even after losing its last territory in Libya.
Air force units of the GNA have carried out operations against IS positions in Sirte and also are trying to stop any IS fighters from escaping from the city. Since August 1st the US has been carrying airstrikes to help out the advancing BAM forces. Up to August 16th the US had conducted 57 airstrikes against IS in Sirte but there have been a number more since then. Some numbers of special forces from various countries including the UK and US are also helping out BAM. As shown on the enclosed video the Misrata Hospital has been overwhelmed by the number of wounded from the campaign.