Libyan brigades aligned with a new UN-backed government in Tripoli lost 10 men and had another 40 wounded in fighting close to the ISIL stronghold of Sirte Wednesday, a hospital spokesman said.
The brigades, mostly composed of fighters from the western city of Misrata, have advanced to the outskirts of Sirte over the past week and say they intend to recapture the city. On Wednesday they had gained ground south of the city, and at a power station west of Sirte, according to statements posted on their social media accounts. They said they had faced four suicide car bombings, two of which had exploded before reaching their targets.
Western states are hoping the United Nations-backed government, which arrived in Tripoli in March, can bring together Libya’s competing factions to defeat ISIL. The extremist group established a foothold in Libya amid political chaos and conflict in the North African state, gaining control over Sirte last year.
Earlier this week a separate force that guards key oil terminals east of Sirte also advanced towards the city, taking control of two small towns previously controlled by ISIL. In Sirte itself, a resident told Reuters that a senior cleric had toured the streets Tuesday urging people to stay in the city and fight.