Islamic State unleashed two waves of suicide bombers on pro-government Libyan forces in a last ditch defense of the group’s stronghold in the country.
More than 16 pro-government Libyan militia fighters were killed in the assault while continuing to rid ISIS from its coastal stronghold in the city of Sirte. ISIS has killed around 180 Libyan militia fighters since the siege began in May, though the terrorist group has lost significant ground in the last few weeks.
[dcquiz] Libyan forces have retaken the city’s air base, port and several barracks. They also secured a symbolic victory by knocking down a stage in the middle of the city that was once used by ISIS to conduct executions and beheadings.
ISIS forces remaining in Sirte have more or less been cornered, but that does not mean they are not dangerous. As has been the case in Iraq, when ISIS loses territory, it can still strike with deadly force through suicide bombings behind enemy lines.
Despite recent losses, ISIS has shown it has the capability to strike anywhere in Libya. Abdel-Aziz Essa, a spokesman for the Misrata hospital located 170 miles from Sirte, told The Associated Press Thursday 10 militia fighters were killed and seven injured in a suicide bombing on the Abu Grain village police station 80 miles west of Sirte.
The militia fighters who died in the attack were allied to the Western-backed Government of National Accord, which has been steadily trying to assert its authority over war-torn Libya.
Ahmed Hadia, the man in charge of the media for the operation against ISIS in Sirte, told the AP ISIS terrorists outside of Sirte “could be a more serious threat than the fighters we are currently surrounding.”
Exact figures as to how many fighters ISIS has in Libya are spotty, but U.S. intelligence estimated in that the group had anywhere between 4,000 to 6,000 men operating in the country. That figure has likely lowered since operations against Sirte began.
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