Libyan Forces say Daesh Beaten Back in Sirte

Libyan forces pray as they prepare for next advance against Islamic State holdouts in Sirte, Libya August 29, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

SIRTE, Libya Aug 30 – Libyan forces said they captured a residential neighborhood in central Sirte from Daesh on Monday, leaving just one district of the city still occupied by the militants.

Spokesman Rida Issa said Sirte’s neighbourhood Number One was “completely liberated”, but added that the brigades, backed by U.S. air strikes, were “in the process of clearing any remnants of Daesh” from the area.

For more than three months, brigades aligned with Libya‘s U.N.-backed government have been battling to oust Daesh from Sirte, a coastal city that the militant group turned into a regional stronghold last year.

The United States began an air campaign over Sirte on Aug. 1, and had by Sunday carried out 92 strikes against Daesh.

Militants have defended themselves with suicide bombers, snipers and mines, inflicting heavy casualties on brigade fighters. At least six brigade members were killed and 12 wounded on Monday, according to hospital officials.

The latest gains came after the brigades made significant advances on Sunday in which 35 of their men were killed and more than 200 wounded.

Many of the latest casualties were caused by mines, car bombs or artillery fire, according to hospital officials and brigade fighters.

On Monday, the brigades could be seen moving tanks and other vehicles towards forward positions.

There was a pause in fighting last week as the brigades said they were giving a chance to the wives and children of Daesh fighters to leave the battle zone ahead of a final push.

Most brigade fighters are from the city of Misrata, about 230 km (140 miles) northwest of Sirte. They counter-attacked after Daesh advanced towards Misrata at the beginning of May.

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