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Battles Resume in Libya’s Sirte | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo-Forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) have announced that battles against ISIS have resumed in Sirte, Libya, after a two-day suspension.

The forces announced that they have also started combing the liberated areas to clear them of mines or weapons.

Media Center of Solid Structure distributed photographs of the clashes in the area of maritime Jiza as well as the Mahla Bank, which are now under the control of the pro-GNA forces.

In addition, demining units uncovered a number of mines and explosives in one of the liberated neighborhoods after ISIS fled the area.

Since Solid Structure’s initiation, the Air Force Academy in Mesratah did around 600 sorties against ISIS positions in Sirte and in the desert to the south of the city. The Academy has been turned into a base in the battle against ISIS.

Mohammad Qanono, a spokesman at the airbase, said: “Quashed any fantasy ISIS might have had, prevented it from expanding and limited the movements of its members.”

“We asked for… U.S. air strikes because the U.S. air force is very precise,” added Qanono.

Tunisian Defense Minister Farhat Hachani said that North African countries should be cooperating more to stop ISIS fighters who are fleeing their Libyan stronghold of Sirte from returning to their homelands and causing trouble there.

Libyan forces loyal to U.N.-backed GNA initiated several attacks on Sirte to regain control from ISIS terrorists.

Tunisia estimates that about 4,000 of its citizens flew to fight alongside extremist groups and fears they might relocate inside the country.

Hachani told journalists on the sidelines of the meeting of military officials in Paris: “The danger is real is that chose to leave Sirte are heading south to eventually join Boko Haram, but some are also going west.”

He added: “There isn’t a regional strategy. Neighboring countries are managing the day to day security and military question … but while there are terror laws, you need proof that a young person was in a camp or fighting in jihadist ranks.”

The minister also declared that the international cooperation is “not up to the level of the danger, saying that “we are in a decisive moment. The threats endanger the entire region. We have to cooperate before the boat sinks.”

His French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian said the spread of militants outside of Libya should be dealt with.

“They don’t just disappear so there’s a new risk there and only a real cooperation between all neighboring countries will enable us to face that threat,” Le Drian said.

On another note, the Italian coast guard announced it had recovered the bodies of 15 refugees and rescued 2,700 others off the Libyan coast on Monday.

“More than 2,700 people were rescued … Fifteen bodies were recovered in the operations,” the coast guard said in a statement.

Former Italian Minister of Defense Ignazio La Russa told AKI news agency that he hoped Italy would send a military delegation to Libyan ports to monitor refugee boats. He called for refugee centers in Libya to receive those who are trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.