Libyan Troops Battle To Force Isis Out Of Sirte

Libyan Troops Battle To Force Isis Out Of Sirte

Forces aligned with Libya's U.N.-backed government edged closer to ousting the Islamic State (ISIS) from their stronghold in the Libyan city of Sirte on Thursday (July 28), fighting street by street and using snipers to target militants.

The government-backed forces have pinned militants back to a small area in the center of the coastal city after advancing on the ISIS stronghold in May.

But they have faced stiff resistance from the several hundred militants thought to be still holed up in Sirte, suffering casualties from snipers and explosive devices.

A Libyan soldier, Badh Mohammed Abu Dabbous, said that the militants are losing power.

"We are currently in the Dollar neighborhood and we are on the verge of liberating it all. There are a few homes left in the neighborhood where Islamic State is present and we are surrounding these homes. We have also taken control of the health institute and the surrounding area. Islamic State are weakened. They don't have the power they used to have," he said.

The Libyan government-backed forces are mainly made up of fighters from the city of Misrata, though other western Libyan towns and cities have also contributed men.

They have received some support from the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, but many fighters feel let down by the government and its Western allies, saying that a lack of medical support, equipment and ammunition has hindered their progress.

ISIS took total control of Sirte last year, turning it into its primary North African base and extending its presence along about 250 km (155 miles) of Libya's coastline.

The militant group expanded into Libya amid the political chaos and security vacuum that developed after long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in an uprising in 2011.