Forces loyal to Libya’s unity government are saying they have retaken the city of Sirte from Islamic State militants. More than 100 government service members have been killed and more than 400 wounded since the struggle to take the city back from ISIS began in early May. At least 11 government fighters were killed on Friday alone.
Sirte, a port city and the hometown of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi, was taken over by ISIS, also known as Daeesh, in February of 2015. The victory is a major boost for the Government of National Accord (GNA) which came to power with the support of the United Nations.
General Mohammed al-Ghasri told reporters that the operation was backed by US and British specialists who provided logistical support and intelligence while also aiding with strategical and tactical planning. His forces are continuing to face sporadic fighting and gunfire in the streets as they fight to reclaim complete control of Sirte.
The nation of Libya has been embroiled in chaos ever since Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011. Fights broke out for control of the country’s oil fields. In 2014, the capital city of Tripoli was seized by Khalifa Ghweil and his supporters who forced the internationally-recognized government to flee to the remote eastern city of Tobruk. The two governments agreed to join together to form the unity government last December after months of UN-brokered negotiations in Tunisia and Morocco, but the instability opened the door for terrorist groups such as ISIS to enter and take control of parts of the country.