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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Islamic State cleared from most of Sirte but resistance still fierce

The forces of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (Solid Structure or BAM) are engaged in a final advance to clear out the last remaining fighters of the Islamic State (IS) or Daesh from their former stronghold of Sirte.

BAM forces are loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord. BAM's media center said: "Our forces are advancing inside parts of district Number Three where the Daesh remnants are entrenched." The BAM offensive has been backed by U.S. air support since August 1 and there are also small numbers of special forces from the UK and US helping out in the offensive. The IS had occupied Sirte since June of 2015.
The cost of the offensive is high as just on Sunday 38 BAM forces were killed and 185 wounded as they took district one. In yesterday's fighting at least 10 BAM fighters were killed. The Misrata hospital has been overwhelmed by the number of wounded coming from the front. On Sunday, the main reception area was used as an emergency area to treat injured fighters. Doctor Akram Jumaa described Sunday as "blood day": “I carried out dozens of surgeries that lasted until this morning, and some others are still ongoing.” Space is so limited up to five or six fighters are put together in a single room.
There are estimated to about one thousand fighters involved in the offensive. Since the conflict began more than 400 BAM fighters have been killed and almost 2,500 wounded. An Afriqyah Airways plane had its tires vandalized as it was about to take off with wounded BAM fighters. Lax security at the Mitiga airport was blamed for the vandalism.
On Sunday, BAM forces captured the Qurtoba mosque which was controlled by the IS. The IS used a total of 12 booby-trapped cars to halt the BAM advance but many were exploded before they could reach their targets with the help of US airstrikes.
Spokesperson for BAM military operations, Mohammed al-Ghasri said that all clashes are now taking place in residential area three and Jiza, a military sea district north of residential area one and adjacent to residential area three. Al-Ghasri said: “War will come to an end once this battle ended. We’re still investigating the validity of the news that IS militants have their families with them inside the area, where they are trapped."


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