Libyan government loyalists make key gains in IS stronghold

Libyan government loyalists make key gains in IS stronghold
The UN-backed government continues to push Islamic State group militants into residential areas of their stronghold in Sirte.
2 min read
02 July, 2016
Libyan government forces are battling to remove the IS group from Sirte [Getty]

Fighters loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord seized control of a residential area in Sirte called the "700 housing units" near Ibn Sina hospital and the city's Ouagadougou conference centre.

It was also reported that the Islamic State group were being hit by airstrikes as part of the effort to unseat the militants from their stronghold in Sirte on the Mediterranean coast.

According to France 24, field commander Siraj Daw said that fighting was getting closer to the Ouagadougou centre, which the IS group has been using as its field headquarters.

"The resistance has been fierce but we have dealt with the (IS group) snipers and wiped them out... We've captured many vehicles and weapons," he told reporters.

"They have many dead," he said, without giving figures.

Since May, forces loyal to Libya's UN-backed government in Tripoli and their rival militias from the east have advanced on Sirte, forcing the militants back to a residential zone in the city.

This advance has slowed since the forces entered the city on June 9, with the IS group having responded with sniper fire and suicide bombings.

Sirte taken over by IS group militants in June last year, after growing in strength in Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Medical sources report that almost 200 anti-IS fighters have been killed since the beginning of the offensive, with over 600 wounded.