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Libya anti-IS forces retake central district of Sirte Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Libya anti-IS forces retake central district of Sirte

Loyalist forces launched operations in mid-May to retake Sirte [GNA]

Date of publication: 17 August, 2016

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Libyan pro-government forces said they seized control of a central district of Sirte on Tuesday as they try to push out the last Islamic State fighters from the coastal city.

Libyan pro-government forces said they seized control of a central district of Sirte on Tuesday as they try to push out the last Islamic State group [IS] fighters from the coastal city.

Backed by tanks and mortar fire, forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord [GNA] retook an area of Sirte, known as District Two, the Bunyan Marsus (Solid Structure) operations room said in an online statement.

"Our valiant forces waged heroic battles on Tuesday against the final IS remnants in Sirte and took control of one of the most important sites, where they were holed up," it said.

It added that IS retaliated with five suicide car bomb attacks, a suicide motorcycle attack and three suicide vest attacks.

"It became clear during the fighting that the IS fighters chose to kill themselves after losing hope of winning the battle," the statement said.

The operations room released images of the fighting in central districts, including graphic images of slain extremists.

The advance by pro-GNA troops came a day after the loyalists cleared and de-mined areas of the city captured in earlier clashes.

Only the residential area known as District One, adjacent to the recaptured District Two, as well as several public buildings, including a sports complex, remain under IS control.

Medics said that five pro-government troops were killed and 38 injured in Tuesday's clashes.

More than 300 loyalists have been killed and 1,800 wounded in the three-month-old battle for Sirte, according to an official casualty toll.

Dozens of US air raids this month have helped to weaken the Islamic State group's hold on Sirte, which the extremists seized last year and established as their main base outside Syria and Iraq.

The Pentagon said it carried out "precision" air raids against IS positions in Sirte on Monday, in action coordinated with the GNA.

An IS vehicle and "four enemy fighting positions" were hit, it said, adding that a total of 48 such air raids had been carried out since August 1.

IS seized control of Sirte, the hometown of ex-dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in June 2015, taking advantage of the chaos that followed the longtime Libyan leader's overthrow and killing in 2011.

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