Sirte: Armed Forces Attempting to Encircle Da’esh

Editorial Comment:

There is no way to determine whether anything in the following reports is accurate. All reports, Arabic and English, are currently sourced from the UN-appointed unity government or their command center in Misrata. There have been no statements from the tribes or the Libyan National Army.  Given the widespread media blackout and NATO-Stratfor control of what information is made public, these reports raise more questions than they answer.

Before the conspiracy of silence surrounding Sirte, significant gains were being made by the legitimate armed forces and the tribes.

It is unlikely that the national guard militias are accomplishing much in the way of liberating Sirte.  If they had that goal, with the help of their foreign special forces allies, Sirte should have been liberated last week. Rather than this piece reading like a list of gains made, it is actually a record of the GoA militia’s incompetence.

Jamahiriya News Agency


Airstrikes against da’esh in Sirte

Air Forces under the command of the GNA’s Presidential Council attempted several airstrikes against the terrorist organization IS near Wagadugu conferences hall in the city of Sirte.

Spokesman of the GNA’s military operations room, Brigadier Gen. Mohamed Ghusry, said that the Air Forces strikes met all recent objectives and caused the death of many IS militants including several field leaders.

Ghusry also assured the Army’s has the total control over Wadi Jaref area, pointing that clashes are going on around Eddaher area 17 Km away of downtown Sirte, adding that his forces are advancing but IS militants are heavily spread over roofs of many building across the city.

LANA

Misratans say they have taken Sirte power station

Misratan forces have reached the Gulf power station on the outskirts of Sirte . They steadily pushing back IS terrorists against whom they launched their assault at the start of the month.

The success of the thrust has come despite a series of IS suicide attacks in armoured lorries packed with explosives, the most serious of which killed 32 men last week.

There are persistent but unconfirmed reports that foreign special forces are operating alongside Misratan militiamen.

Footage released by Misrata today clearly shows militiamen drawn up beside the most western of the Gulf power station’s plants. There is less obviously verifiable aerial footage of what is said to be the attack on and the destruction of an IS truck bomb near a compound which appears to be to the west of Sirte.

UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler on a flying visit to Misrata today as that he believe IS had between two and three thousand fighters in Sirte. Other estimates have put the total at nearer 6,000.

Whatever the terrorists real strength, it appears that apart from a few rearguard actions, a handful of suicide truck bombings. Grad missile barrages and the widespread rigging of mines and booby-traps, the terrorists have not chosen to confront the Misratan forces head-on, but have withdrawn into Sirte itself.

Misratan commanders have said that they plan to encircle the town. Reuters reported military spokesman Mohamed Al-Gasri as saying that besides the power station, Misratan forces had also cut the road leading south to Waddan.

“The next step is to encircle Sirte” said Gasri, “and then we will ask the residents to try to leave. We don’t want to enter now because of the residents. But if it becomes a battlefield we can enter within hours.”

In February 2015, Misratan forces spearheaded by Brigade 166 were confident they could push IS out of the town and took journalists to the outskirts to show their preparations. Yet four months later, IS attacked and the Misratans lost control of the power station and began the retreat back to the key road junction at Abu Ghrain, which they managed to hold.

If Misratans are indeed able to surround Sirte and leave it only a maritime link to its outside supporters, it will put Khalifa Hafter’s army advance from the east in a different light. The army is still concentrating to the south of Ajdabiya and has made no serious advance towards Sirte, the taking of which has been named “Qurdabiya 2”

The original Qurdabiya battle in 1915 against the Italians was the only major occasion which Libyans from Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripolitania united in the face of a common enemy.

LH

Forces backed by Libya’s unity government seek to encircle Islamic State-held Sirte


MISRATA, Libya | By Aidan Lewis

Forces loyal to Libya’s U.N.-backed unity government say they aim to encircle Sirte, Islamic State’s stronghold in Libya, having moved to within 15 km (10 miles) of the city center.

The forces, composed of fighters mostly from the western city of Misrata, are now closer to Sirte than they have been for nearly a year. Last summer Misrata brigades withdrew from Sirte and Islamic State took full control there.

Western states are hoping the unity government can bring together Libya’s competing factions to defeat Islamic State, though the new government has struggled to secure support beyond its power base in the west of the country.

Earlier this month Islamic State surged forward towards Misrata, which lies about 240 km northwest of Sirte, taking control of the town of Abu Grain and a number of villages and checkpoints in the area before being pushed back.

Military spokesman Mohamed al-Gasri said that after advancing along the road west of Sirte on Friday, government-backed forces were seeking full control of a steam plant about 15 km from central Sirte, as well as a road leading south from Sirte to Waddan.

“The next step is to encircle Sirte, and then we will ask the residents to try to leave,” he said. “We don’t want to enter now because of the residents. But if it becomes a battlefield we can enter within hours.”

Misrata brigades have suffered some of their heaviest losses for months in recent clashes. One single truck bombing killed 32 people last week, and some 75 fighters have been killed and more than 350 injured since the start of May, Gasri said.

He also said that dozens of Islamic State fighters had died, and the Misrata military operations room said on Saturday that these included a senior North Africa commander for the group called Khaled al-Shayab.

On the road south of Misrata burnt-out cars can be seen at the sites of more than half a dozen suicide bombings or mine explosions, and the government-backed forces are still struggling to de-mine areas where Islamic State advanced.

About 50 km from Sirte troops are building earth and sand barriers on the coastal road as a defense against further bombings.

Gasri said last year’s withdrawal from Sirte would not be repeated.

“This time it’s different because there is an internationally recognized government that has pledged to support the army to fight Daesh (Islamic State).”

Though U.S. and European special forces are known to have been on the ground in Libya, Gasri said his forces had not received any direct international assistance.

Forces in eastern Libya that have clashed with Misrata in the past have announced a separate campaign to capture Sirte, leading to fears of renewed internal conflict.

The eastern forces are allied to a parliament and government based in the east that failed to formally endorse the U.N.-backed administration.