More Gains and Losses for GNA forces in Conflict Against ISIS in Sirte

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

The fight against the so called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Sirte has been ongoing as the number of casualties continues to rise.

ISIS has taken over a hotel on the city’s coast to position its snipers at the top of buildings.

In Wednesday’s fierce battle, Government of National Accord (GNA) forces suffered their greatest number of casualties to date, with over 35 soldiers killed and more than 150 were injured.

Despite their losses the GNA backed forces have been successful taking bits of the city with every passing week as they push ISIS further and further into Sirte.

“The only problem we’re facing is suicide car bombs. We’re taking out their tires, firing heavy weapons at them and closing roads,” Hamza Hassan, a fighter in the 166 Brigade from Misrata, explains (BBC News).

“The guerrilla warfare is similar to 2011 but these are a different breed of people,” Hassan says.

“They put their hands in the air so you think they’re surrendering and then detonate themselves,” Hassan further explains the frustration he and his men are experiencing fighting ISIS.

Hassan’s brigade has been focused on preventing ISIS fighters from fleeing by sea and they reportedly have been making progress.

ISIS has lost some control of Sirte’s coastline as it has not been able to use its bigger ships due to various efforts preventing the boats from entering or exiting Sirte’s harbour.

GNA backed forces have not been engaging in air raids. Drone technology is being used to fly over Sirte and locate ISIS snipers positioned on rooftops. Drone equipment has been provided to GNA backed forces by special forces from Britain and United States. When snipers are located fighters on the ground fire at them with full force.

Majority of the fighters under the GNA operation are armed groups and brigades who came into existence during the revolution, many of them from Misrata. Only some men are former trained members of the Libyan armed forces prior to the Libyan uprising in 2011.

ISIS has “ beheaded our children, crucified them, threw them off the roofs of buildings, terrorized the people and abused faith to justify their crimes,” one of the GNA backed fighters tells the BBC.

“Islamic faith has no room for them. They are outsiders and it is permitted to kill them and treat them with no mercy,” the fighter says.

It is predicted that ISIS will not last in Sirte past Ramadan which will be coming to an end in just over two weeks.

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