Libyan government closes in on Islamic State's Sirte stronghold

Libyan government closes in on Islamic State's Sirte stronghold
Libya's UN-backed government is locked in a race with its eastern rival to unseat the Islamic State group from the Mediterranean coast.
2 min read
09 June, 2016
GNA forces capture an IS-controlled power plant west of Sirte, June 2 2016 [AFP]

Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord edged closer to the eastern and southern frontiers of the Islamic State group's strongold of Sirte on Wednesday, capturing two military barracks from the group.

"Our forces are in full control of Tagreft barracks and military engineers are inspecting the zone to clear anti-personnel mines," the forces of the Government of National Unity (GNA) said in a Facebook post.

The second barracks, named al-Jalet, was also captured along with a bridge and an intersection that leads to Sirte's western entrance, after the Libyan air force provided aerial backing through seven airstrikes.

The UN-backed government gave a positive indication on their progress towards the IS group's stronghold, saying that the booby trapped vehicles and mines left by the militants were doing little to deter their advance.

The brigades added that one such vehicle was headed towards their lines, however it was destroyed in the air raids before it could cause any casualties.

Libya Map

Western powers have given their backing to Fayez al-Sarraj's unity government in Tripoli to defeat the IS group in Libya, with a total of 25 having already agreed to arm the fledgling government's military and militias.

There has also been a limited presence of Western troops in the country, however the country's PM recently said that he would not allow more foreign troops into Libya, nor in its airspace to carry out aerial attacks. 

Meanwhile, the GNA's forces advancing on Sirte have been locked in a race with fighters from Libya's east who have not recognised Sarraj's authority and are loyal to a rival military power. Both groups hope to expel the IS group from Libya's Mediterranean coast.

The unity government, however, enjoyed a boost to its legitimacy this month when two major armed groups in eastern Libya announced their support for the Tripoli authority.