Cairo-ISIS’s Libyan stronghold in the city of Sirte appeared to be on the verge of falling to militia fighters loyal to Libya’s new Western-backed government.
Pro-government forces made an unexpectedly rapid advance into the city and Libyan government officials predicted that ISIS militants would be completely routed “within days.”
ISIS’s resistance did not completely melt away and snipers in the center of the city continued to fire on advancing militia forces; however, a militia coalition spokesman said they were confident of victory.
“We think that Sirte will be liberated within days, not weeks,” Mohamed al-Gasri told Asharq Al-Awsat.” ISIS snipers are a concern to us because they shoot from long distances and that has hindered us in the battle inside the city.”
He confirmed that the operations carried out by al-Bunyan al-Marsous, which is a military offensive led by Libyan forces from Misrata, will continue.
The recapture of Sirte would be a major boost for the new Government of National Accord (GNA), a unity government formed after a U.N.-brokered deal among different factions.
Notably, Sirte, a port city on the Mediterranean coast, was best known as Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown before it fell into the hands of ISIS.
The extremist group has gained a foothold in the country in a power vacuum that hasn’t been filled since collapse of Gaddafi’s regime collapsed in 2011.
Moreover, forces allied with Libya’s unity government said Saturday they had recaptured the port in the militant stronghold of Sirte from ISIS militants who are surrounded inside the city.
The forces also retook a residential area in the east of Sirte, the main ISIS base in the North African country, a spokesman for the forces, Rida Issa said.
The fall of Sirte would be a major setback to the extremists who have also lost territory in Syria and Iraq where they have declared an Islamic “caliphate.”