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Securing Sirte

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Securing Sirte

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There have been fresh clashes between forces aligned with Libya’s UN-backed government and ISIL militants in Sirte.

It comes a day after the retaking of a convention centre that had been the symbol of the militant group’s authority in the city.

In a statement, they said they had taken ISIL’s “most important bastions” in its former North African stronghold.

What happened?

The UN-backed Libyan government forces and fighters seized the Ouagadougou convention centre along with several other key sites on Wednesday.

They moved into areas that had been fought over for weeks, the advance slowed by sniper fire, trip wires and landmines.

Who are the fighters?

They are led by brigades from the nearby Misrata.

They repelled an ISIL advance south of their city in early May, before pushing eastwards to Sirte.

Have they achieved their aims?

Not yet.

They have yet to gain control of several neighbourhoods in central Sirte.

There has been sporadic gunfire with militants entrenched near the port.

How significant would this be?

The capture of Sirte would be a major setback for ISIL. It is the only city in Libya where the group has established total control.

It could also boost the fortunes of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

It has been struggling to exert its influence on a country riven by political and armed rivalries.

US air strikes

US Africa Command says it carried out seven strikes on Sirte on Wednesday, targeting trucks mounted with heavy artillery, fighting positions, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and two supply trucks.

US drones and fighter jets have carried out 36 strikes over Sirte since August 1.

The human cost

  • 18 GNA fighters were killed on Wednesday
  • 72 were wounded
  • 350 brigade fighters have been lost since Sirte campaign began
  • 1,500 have been wounded

    What they are saying

“It will not take much time. Probably not months, just a few weeks,” – GNA Prime Minister Fayez Seraj tells Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that the defeat of ISIL will not take long.

“They may try to run or commit suicide, but they don’t have the power to face our forces anymore. After we took control of Ouagadougou, ISIL is finished from a military point of view,” – Colonel Mohammed al-Ghasri, official spokesman for military operations in Sirte.

“Military engineering units are now working to clear the captured areas of mines,” – brigade spokesman Issa.

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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