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Monday, July 4, 2016

Offensive against Islamic State continues in Sirte Libya

The Albinyan Almarsoos (Solid Structure) forces, loyal to the Government of National Accord, continue to make slow but steady progress against the remaining Islamic State forces encircled in part of the coastal city of Sirte.

Most of the forces are militia from the city of Misrata. Sirte was the home town of Gadaffi and is the last stronghold of the Islamic State in Libya. The battle has been most intense in the neighborhood known as 700. The Solid Structure forces were able to take control of Islamic State barricades. On Tuesday in the 700 area four foreigners and one Libyan fighter from the Islamic State were killed with no losses on the Solid Structure side. Explosive expert have been kept busy dismantling bombs that the IS inevitably leaves behind.
recent tweet provides the casualties for battles on Wednesday June 29: "#Libya: 4 killed & 37 wounded #BonyanAlMarsous fighters amid clashes in #Sirte on Wednesday June 29, reports state 15 #ISIS fighters killed."
The Solid Structure forces uncovered a factory where the IS had been manufacturing grenades,car bombs, and other explosives in the Arches neighborhood. A Solid Structure fighter said:“This was like a headquarters for Daesh [ISIS] weaponry and they made a lot of devices and booby-traps here, out of scrap metal, We also found a lot of other items, including pieces of scrap metal, that Daesh [ISIS] used in their car bombs, to create shrapnel to make the explosion more lethal and cause the maximum damage and injuries."The extensive use of suicide bombers, and improvised explosive devices has resulted in more than 200 deaths and over 1,000 wounded Solid Structure fighters. The fighters lack basic military equipment such as helmets and bullet proof vests, resulting in many more deaths and injuries than if they were properly equipped.
Abdul Latif Riad, a fighter recovering from in a Misrata hospital said:“We never saw these kind of things when we were fighting in 2011. We found that Daesh has specialist people who know how to prepare mines and IEDs by hand. Either these people come from outside Libya, or they have been trained how to make these devices because, in 2011, we were only dealing with face-to face fighting, not these kind of IEDs.”Daesh refers to the Islamic State.
The Solid Structure forces have been aided by air strikes. Apparently a small group of special forces from the US and the UK are helping out by providing intelligence and locating targets for the air strikes and also for artillery on the ground. Yesterday there were at least five air raids allowing Solid Structure forces to gain ground. General Mohamed Ghasri, spokesperson for the forces, claimed there are still thousands of civilians trapped in the area occupied by the IS. He said: “They’ve made civilians into human shield(s), keeping them from leaving the city and using their houses as bases,”
The New York Times has a reporter right at the front in Sirte. He provides an interesting and detailed report right from the scene. The report also has an interesting interview with one of the commanders, who claims that it is Haftar, not the Islamic State, who is the biggest danger in Libya. The account also confirms other reports that UK and U.S. special forces are helping out with the offensive by providing intelligence.

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