Militias allied with Libya’s U.N.-supported “Government of National Accord” claim to have seized the Islamic State’s headquarters in Sirte.
“The Ouagadougou Center is in our hands,” said a militia spokesman on Thursday, referring to the conference center that has been used as a base by Islamic State forces, as reported by the BBC.
The Libya Herald reports that Sirte’s Ibn Sina Hospital and university have also been taken by militia forces. According to this report, a Libyan fighter jet was lost during Wednesday’s fighting, but the plane might have suffered technical issues instead of being shot down, as ISIS claims.
The BBC relates word from pro-government forces that ISIS still holds positions in “three residential areas of Sirte and in a villa complex near the seafront.”
According to the Libya Herald, the U.S. Africa Command conducted eight airstrikes in support of the offensive Wednesday, bringing the total number of American airstrikes since the beginning of August to 28.
The head of Libya’s Presidency Council, Faiez Serraj, predicted victory against ISIS in Sirte “within a few weeks.” He said foreign ground troops were not needed but asked for continued American air support as well as “more sophisticated weapons for the street battles” waged by Islamic State fighters and more Italian assistance with medical treatment for Libya’s war wounded.
Reuters reports that “Libyan brigades in Misrata and Sirte have been working with small teams of Western special forces who have provided intelligence and logistical support as well as strategic advice.”
This includes special forces from the United States, the U.K., and Italy. According to Italian media, that country’s special forces are teaching Libyan troops how to defuse the mines and booby traps ISIS has planted around Sirte.