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.