by WorldTribune Staff, June 12, 2016
Militiamen allied with Libya’s UN-backed unity government captured the port of Sirte on June 11 as Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) jihadists barricaded themselves in the city center in anticipation of the Libyan forces’ advance.
Libyan Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Ghasri said ISIL has fallen back to a densely built-up area in Sirte, with the terror group’s snipers taking positions on rooftops waiting for the militiamen to advance.
ISIL carried out three car bombings against the advancing Libyan forces on June 12, Rida Eisa, a spokesman for the Libyan forces, told AFP.
“Three explosions from cars driven by Islamic State suicide bombers targeted our forces in Sirte,” the spokesman said. “There are several wounded among our forces,” he said, without providing further details.
The militias have been pounding the area with artillery in an effort to disrupt ISIL defenses before the forces allied with the Government of National Accord (GNA) advance.
Fierce street battles were reported around a Gadhafi-era conference center that once hosted international summits. The Libyan forces also took control of a residential area in the east of the ISIL stronghold, Eisa said, adding that the terror group’s forces are “encircled” in a five-square-kilometer area inside the city.
Eleven members of the forces loyal to the GNA were killed and 45 wounded on June 10, mostly by sniper fire, Eisa said.
Some ISIL jihadists have reportedly shaven off their beards to escape Sirte as militiamen began advancing on the city in tanks and pickup trucks mounted with machine guns.