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Libya: fighters loyal to UN-backed unity government suffer heavy losses in Sirte

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Libya: fighters loyal to UN-backed unity government suffer heavy losses in Sirte

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Libyan forces are said to have suffered heavy losses in the battle to retake the coastal city of Sirte from ISIL militants.

The northern city was seized by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in February, 2015.

Sources at a field hospital report at least 34 fighters loyal to the UN-backed unity government have been killed. Over 180 have suffered injuries.

Misrata hospital says 442 fighters loyal to the unity government have lost their lives since May. The number of wounded is estimated to stand at over 2,100.

The three-month campaign of heavy fighting continued on Sunday (August 28) after a one-week pause.

Libyan soldiers, backed in recent weeks by US-led air strikes, say they have managed to push ISIL fighters back into a small, residential area of central Sirte.

Street-to-street combat is taking place, with tanks and rocket-propelled grenades being used. While local brigades claim they are close to victory, some only have improvised weapons and they say suicide bombings, sniper fire and landmines have hampered their progress.

The brigades, formed mostly of fighters from Misrata, reported five attempted car bombings on Sunday alone. A desperate attempt, they said, “to disrupt the advance.”

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