The Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous (Solid Structure or BAM) forces loyal to the UN--backed Government of National Accord appear about to finish off the remaining Islamic State fighters in the city of Sirte where they are surrounded in a confined area.
The BAM forces report that they have taken control of the key Ouagadougou Center in Sirte that the Islamic State has been using as its headquarters and had so far been able to fend off attacks. The University of Sirte was first to be liberated in fighting today. The Ibn Sina Hospital was also taken. A recent tweet says: Breaking News: "Misrata-led forces are now combing through the Ouagadougou Conference Halls in #Sirte" Most of the BAM forces are brigades from Misrata. Another tweet reports: The first picture of the Ouagadougou center in #Sirte. Still clashes inside and near the center."
However, a fighter plane was lost during the offensive. The IS claimed to have shot it down but it could have crashed due to technical problems as the planes are quite old. The pilot was reported killed. This is the second plane lost over Sirte as an MiG was lost back on June 2 earlier in the offensive.
The US has been aiding the offensive with airstrikes since August 1. On Monday it carried out 8 airstrikes according to the Africa Command. The total now is 28. More strikes have been carried out since then but are not yet tallied. Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord, Faiez Serraj, said that the battle in Sirte should be over in a few weeks. However, with the taking of the headquarters it may be even sooner. Serraj said that foreign ground troops would not be needed. Yet there are already special forces from a number of countries already operating in Libya as this tweet notes: "Serraj to Corriere Della Sera, “We do not need foreign troops on Libyan soil.” US,UK,Italy, France confirm ground troops operate in #Libya." Corriere Della Sera is an Italian newspaper. Serraj said: “Our soldiers had been highly successful in recent times against the men of the Caliphate” Serraj also said that the request for US help came direct from the BAM fighters. Actually, it cane through the GNA.
He thanked Italy for allowing the US to use the Sigonetta air base in Sicily to launch attacks on IS. Although he said that Libya did not need more military help it needed help from Italy to treat those wounded in the offensive as Libyan hospitals were overwhelmed.
Fighters allied to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) are making preparations for the final battle against the Islamic State in their last stronghold, the city of Sirte.
The last of the Islamic State (IS) fighters left in Sirte are surrounded in an area of about 5 square miles. The Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (Solid Structure or BAM) forces are mostly brigades from the city of Misrata. The GNA government said in a statement: "The countdown of the final stage of the military operations against Daesh has started. The operation's leaders held intensive meetings to prepare for the final and decisive battles to eradicate the Daesh gang from the city of Sirte." Daesh is the Arabic name for the Islamic State.
The IS has occupied Sirte for over a year.The offensive against Sirte began in May and the city was entered in June but since then progress has met fierce resistance. Almost a month ago it was announced that IS resistance in the city was expected to end in a few days. The IS still hold their headquarters in the Ouagdougou Conference center. However, since Monday, at the request of the GNA, the U.S. has carried out air strikes that have further weakened the IS defences. During the operation to liberate Sirte, about 300 BAM forces have been killed and 1,800 wounded.
The GNA air force needs help from the west so that it could become more efficient. If it had been strengthened as has happened to the rival air force of Khalifa Haftar, the GNA could probably have already defeated the IS on their own. Perhaps the GNA wants to show they can enlist foreign help as Haftar has had from France, UAE, and Egypt.The Bunyan Marsoos news media office said that the US carried out four air strikes today against sniper positions. They deny some reports that claim some BAM fighters had been killed or injured. Some speculate that the US attacks are meant to drive remaining IS fighters into the conference center and then subject the headquarters to a devastating attack. UK special forces are reported to be helping out in the offensive. There is video footage of what the US has called Operation Odyssey Lightning here.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.
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