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Libya forces launch air raids to cut off Daesh militants

By AFP - Aug 20,2016 - Last updated at Aug 20,2016

TRIPOLI — Air force units of Libya's unity government launched an operation Saturday to cut off potential escape routes for extremists holed up in the coastal city of Sirte, loyalist forces said.

The forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA), on their Facebook page, said the surveillance operation covered central Libya as well as the western region up to the border with Tunisia.

Pro-GNA forces, backed since early August by US air strikes, began an assault in mid-May to expel the Daesh terror group from its Sirte stronghold.

They fought their way into Sirte on June 9 and have since faced a barrage of sniper fire, suicide bombings and booby traps, but have pinned down the fighters in a downtown area near the sea.

More than 350 pro-GNA fighters have been killed and nearly 2,000 wounded in the battle, according to medical sources. Daesh casualties figures are unavailable.

Sirte itself has been emptied of its residents, apart from families of Daesh militants, according to the pro-GNA forces.

 

Pentagon spokesman Gordon Trowbridge in mid-August estimated that extremists in Sirte numbered fewer than 1,000.

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