A spokesperson for the forces attacking Sirte from the east, Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (Solid Structure) Mohammed Al-Ghasri confirms that Misrata-led forces forces from the west and Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) from the east have now seized the Harawa district to the east of Sirte.
Al-Ghasri boasted: “The battle for Sirte has been won by our forces, the die is cast, IS militants have completely collapsed and we will free the city in a matter of two days.”
The forces entered into Sirte on Wednesday capturing several military camps including Al-Jalit and Tagreft. They also took control of the Buhadi districts and the Zafaran roundabout where IS hung opponents.
It is only 5 kilometers, about three miles, to the city center. The Misrata militias from the west have now joined up with the PFG forces from the east.
A tweet also announced the takeover of the town ofHarawa:"LibyaschannelEN @LibyaschannelEN #BunyanMarsus Ops Room announces liberation of #Harawa almost exactly one year after the village was seized by #IS."
The Solid Structure forces are loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
There has been air support for some operations. Inside the city of Sirte the Solid Structure forces are advancing to take the Ougadougou Conference Hall one of the headquarters of the Islamic State. A recent tweet says: Air force bombs #ISIS targets near Ouagadougou Conference Hall as ground forces r preparing to launch a military offensive 2retake the hall.
There have been severe casualties to the Solid Structure forces. A tweet reports: "15 killed + 95 wounded Yesterday vs #daesh #misrata_hospital." There is a dire shortage of medical supplies. In one city not too far from Misrata, Bani Walid, a tweet says the hospital is virtually deserted: " Ali al-Nagrat: Bani Walid hospital is almost deserted because it lacks equipment and medicine". Another tweet has the Presidential Council (PC) of the Government of National Accord (GNA) pleading with the international community for help:"#GNA PC says int'l community has moral responsibility to provide urgent medical aid to forces fighting #IS in #Sirte."
Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) in a recent news release noted the progress against Daesh or the Islamic State and commended those who were fighting against terrorism in all parts of Libya "including in Benghazi and Derna".
Kobler asked for a ceasefire in Benghazi which Khalifa Haftar, commander in chief of the Libyan Natioal Army (LNA) ignored him.
The terrorists in Derna that Haftar is fighting with his Operation Volcano are the Shura Council of Derna Jihadists who deny they have any connection to Al Qaeda and were instrumental in driving the Islamic State out of Derna and surrounding area. Haftar has been bombing Derna for days. I enclose a photo of some of the damage. He characterizes the Council members as part of Al Qaeda.
Events have moved quickly since Kobler's news release and the Islamic State will soon hold no territory in Libya. No doubt there are many sleeper cells throughout the country who will wage terror attacks.
The Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) has yet to vote confidence in the GNA.
Although numerous meetings have been called to do so, they were either lacking a quorum, or were disrupted. No vote has been taken.
A tweet announces that a meeting for a vote will be held on Monday: "Mohamed Eljarh@Eljarh HoR session on Monday announced by Agilah Saleh in #Tobruk. Unlikely that pro-GNA HoR members would join him for the session. #Libya."
Saleh is sanctioned by the EU for actions impeding the implementation of the Libya Political Agreement (LPA). An alleged majority of the HoR have agreed to the GNA in principle. It may be that they fear if they come to Tobruk they will again not be allowed to vote.
It is not at all clear why the HoR is unable to provide security for the vote.
This sets a terrible example for the future role of the HoR as the legislature of the GNA.
Forces, mostly Misrata militia, loyal to the UN-brokered Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) have now entered into the city of Sirte, the last city stronghold of the Islamic State in Libya.
Apparently many fighters have already left the city. However, there are also unconfirmed reports that Islamic State fighters have also left the town of Harawa on the east to retreat to Sirte. This would allow the advancing Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) on the eastern front to advance quite close to Sirte.
A tweet said: "Unconfirmed news that #Isis has abandoned Harawa to defend #Sirte. Help in verifying this welcome."
Brigadier Gen. Mohammed al-Ghasri, told the Associated Press that a key bridge within the city where extremists used to hang bodies of their enemies has been seized.
The forces are only 5 kilometers or 3 miles from the center of Sirte. Al-Ghasri said that fighting on Wednesday killed five of his forces and wounded another 25.
An anonymous official said that the advancing forces had met little resistance but there were roadside bombs. There have been air strikes ahead of the advance.
An official claimed that the forces were closing in on the Ouagadougou convention center, which is one of the headquarters of the IS. They are also moving towards the port. Earlier, the forces of Solid Structure as they are called took control of the Tagrift military camp south of Sirte. They are also reported to have captured the Al-Jalet military camp and the Au Hadi roundabout which is immediately south of Sirte.
Meanwhile, the forces of Khalifa Haftar have yet to engage with those of the Islamic State even though he announced that he was going to march to liberate Sirte about three weeks ago. Instead he is busy attacking the city of Derna in what he calls Operation Volcano.
The city is defended by the Shura Council of Derna Jihadists. Haftar insists that they are Al Qaeda although the group denies they have any connections with Al Qaeda.
The Council was instrumental in clearing the Islamic State from Derna and the surrounding area. Surprisingly officials from the House of Representatives (HoR) government to whom Haftar is supposedly loyal are operating within the city. Haftar has been bombing the city and the port for days now. The UN doesn't notice apparently.
Haftar has refused to join with the central command of the GNA. He rejects the GNA and will not recognize it until it is given a vote of confidence by the HoR. However, every meeting to take a vote has lacked a quorum or has been disrupted. It is not clear when another meeting will happen.
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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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