Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Islamic State in Libya controls only about two blocks and 50 buildings in Sirte

(December 2) The Pentagon claims that the Islamic State now only controls about two blocks and 50 buildings in the city of Sirte whereas they had once ruled the entire city and a considerable area in all directions surrounding it.

Captain Jeff Davis, Pentagon spokesperson said the remaining militants are persistent and fighting to the death. Their resistance is stubborn. He said: "This is ISIL's last stand in Sirte and they are fighting hard." The US began bombing support for the Sirte offensive at the first of August and have carried out 467 missions since then. TheUS Africa Command claims to have carried out three strikes near the city of Sirte on Thursday. The offensive is being led by the Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous (Solid Structure or BAM) mainly of brigades from the city of Misrata.
The BAM forces have rescued some civilians including women and children of late. However, a spokesperson for BAM claimed that several women blew themselves up recently killing four BAM soldiers who had granted them safe passage to leave buildings controlled by IS militants. 38 people were wounded. Reuters journalists saw one woman escorting 3 young children through an alley towards BAM forces. Shortly after the children had been driven away in an ambulance, the woman detonated explosives resulting in almost a dozen people being wounded. The IS has even retaken control of a row of buildings that had been destroyed in earlier fighting. The Libyan Gazette also reports on the female bombers.
US Special Envoy to Libya, Jonathan Winer, warned lawmakers at a hearing that many IS fighters who managed to escape fighting in Sirte and Benghazi have "gone underground, forming cells elsewhere in the country". Winer claimed further: "Daesh is continuing to regroup in other areas of Libya, the United States’ special envoy for Libya has warned. “We believe they are waiting for opportunities to engage in further attacks in Libya or its neighbours, and if possible to reassert [Daesh] geographically...The gains against [Daesh] are real. But they also could be reversible, if Libyans do not come together to participate in the Government of National Accord and to help it perform its work for the Libyan people and to unify against the common threat to all.” There is no sign of this happening at present. The offensive against Sirte was begun back in May. It slowed considerably once BAM entered the city of Sirte.
The Department of State's deputy counter-terrorism coordinator, Marie Richards, noted about the offensive: "They have made a great deal of progress, but the fight has been quite severe and the Libyan forces have taken a lot of casualties. We are very confident that in a short period they will be able to eliminate the threat coming out of Sirte." Echoing Winer, Richards said IS fighters would be dispersed throughout Libya and the US would be watching carefully to see where they go,


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