Friday, July 22, 2016

Troops loyal to Libyan unity government attack Islamic State headquarters in Sirte

The Albinyan Almarsoos (Solid Structure, BAM or Albunian) forces, loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) are reported to have attacked a conference hall in the middle of Sirte, the headquarters of the Islamic State (IS).

The IS has been surrounded in the city for some time but suicide bombers, booby traps, and snipers have caused heavy losses and slowed the advance of the BAM forces, who are mostly composed of militia members from the city of Misrata. The campaign against the IS has now lasted two months butsome predict the offensive will soon be victorious. The advance is also slowing down in order to ensure that there are not too many civilian casualties as the IS appears to be using civilians as shields.
Sirte has been under control of the IS since last year and had extended its control along 250 kilometers (155 miles) of coastllne often to a considerable depth to the south. If the IS loses Sirte it will have control of no significant territory in Libya although no doubt it will retain a presence in many areas and be able to launch attacks.
On Friday, Aziz Issa, a spokesperson for the central hospital in Misrata, said at least 20 members were killed and another 120 wounded, a relatively high toll. Ahmed Hadia said that clashes around the Ouagadougou Conference Hall and the Ghiz Asskariya neighborhood had been ongoing for two days. Hadia claimed BAM forces had actually entered the complex but were not able to hold it. He said that the IS used three car bombs in an attempt to counter attack. The conference hall is a key site but so far the BAM forces have been unable to oust the IS from their headquarters.
Another report on Friday spoke of BAM forces only coming within a few hundred meters of the Islamic State headquarters. The report quotes, Mohammed Ghasri, a spokesperson for the BAM forces as saying:“Once you control Ouagadougou, the battle is over.” There is a recent photo of the conference hall here and a video of recent battles hereThe report claims only 14 killed on Friday and 50 injured according to Ghasri.
recent tweet gives a third casualty number: 25 killed + 120 wounded From #albunian force In sirt Friday. Another tweet suggests that the headquarters of the IS is full of booby traps and even two hidden IS fighters exploded themselves when BAM troops stormed the basement: #albunian All #wag HQ R booby trapped Underground R hiden suicide terrorests wait 2 explode them selves when we storm the basement

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