Saturday, June 18, 2016

Forces of UN-brokered Libyan unity government take control of port o Sirte from the Islamic State.

Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (Solid Structure) forces, mostly militia from Misrata have captured the port in the last remaining stronghold of the Islamic State, the city of Sirte.

The remaining Islamic State fighters are now entirely surrounded within the city. Many had already escaped the city. Earlier numbers placed the numbers of IS fighters at up to 6,000 but this appears an exaggeration. 

A residential area in the east of the city was also taken. The fall of Sirte would leave IS without any significant territory in Libya although it could still launch terror attacks and has some presence in Benghazi yet it would seem. Sirte was the home town of Gadaffi and there are many loyalists there.

Fighting is said to be raging around a conference center, the Islamic State headquarters. Air strikes were carried out on the center. It is reported that 11 of the militia forces were killed and 45 wounded on Friday.

Hospitals are overcrowded and in need of medical supplies and apparently planes carrying wounded to Italy have not been allowed to land. Flights to Italy and elsewhere to treat the wounded are being blocked by NATO  as mentioned in this tweet: "Outrageous: UN US EU NATO applaud Misrata for battling #ISIS @ Sirte #Libya while blocking evacuation of war wounded"

Brett McGurk, Barack Obama's anti-ISIS envoy said that numbers of ISIS in Libya had probably plateaued at 5,000.  There are certainly not that many left in Sirte. McGurk said:“I just don’t want to get ahead of the situation because it remains pretty fluid. But we’re encouraged by the progress they’re making.  Once you have a credible force on the ground that moves against them, there is a chance that they could crack pretty quickly". 

A recent tweet notes:   ISIS in Sirte and their territory that a month ago extended 250km along the coast. Now ISIS is besieged in 20km-square area within #Sirte"  The appended map also shows the huge shrinkage in territory controlled by ISIS since May. McGurk is behind the times. Anotherrecent tweet indicates that clashes are ongoing on all fronts: Clashes all fronts East, West & South, heavy clashes within the city of #Sirte - suggestions city will be liberated within days/hrs. #Libya

​McGurk said that the US was willing to work with General Haftar, commander in chief of the Libyan National Army associated with the rival House of Representatives (HoR) But McGurk made it clear that Haftar had to recognize the authority of the UN-backed Government of National Accord(GNA). Haftar has made it clear he will not do so until the HoR gives a vote of confidence in the GNA. This is supposed to take place on Monday. 

There have been many meetings most without a quorum and two disrupted but without any vote. Haftar has said he will not join with GNA forces until all the militias are disbanded. That is not likely to happen any time soon as the GNA depends upon them for security. Haftar announced about three weeks ago he would liberate Sirte but has not had any clashes with them meanwhile, the Misrata militia from the west and the Petroleum Facilities Guard in the east closed in on Sirte. 
Al Bunyan A Marssoos (Solid Structure)

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