Libya forces facing 'fierce' ISIL resistance in Sirte

Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) launched a new attack on Saturday against IS in Sirte, the coastal city seized by the extremists last year.

Libya forces facing 'fierce' ISIL resistance in Sirte

World Bulletin / News Desk

Libyan pro-government forces are facing "fierce resistance" from Islamic State group holdouts in Sirte and it could take several days to gain full control of the city, a spokesman said Sunday.

Backed by weeks of US air strikes, pro-GNA fighters have recaptured nearly all of what had been the jihadists' main stronghold in North Africa.

IS fighters are now cornered in a last district of the city but Reda Issa, a spokesman for loyalist forces, said it was proving difficult to dislodge them.

"IS is putting up fierce resistance in their last neighbourhoods," Issa told AFP. "They are trying to make the battle last longer although they know it will be over soon."

At least 10 pro-GNA fighters were killed and 60 wounded in Saturday's offensive, with most of the deaths caused by car bombs and suicide attacks, Issa said.

Fighting had eased on Sunday, he said, as pro-government forces sought ways "to minimise the casualties caused by IS suicide attacks the next time there will be an offensive".

"We hope to liberate Sirte before Eid," Issa said, referring to the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday, which is due around September 12.

The forces loyal to the UN-backed GNA had said they were preparing to "liberate" the entire city after seizing several IS positions, including its headquarters, last month.

The city's fall would be a huge setback to IS's efforts to expand its self-proclaimed "caliphate" beyond Syria and Iraq where the jihadists have also suffered losses.

The capture of Sirte by IS sparked fears the jihadists would use the city as a springboard for attacks on Europe.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Eylül 2016, 18:33
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