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Libyan Forces Re-take Sirte Port From Daesh Militants
Libyan forces say they have re-taken control of the port in the city of Sirte, after fierce fighting against the Daesh militants.
Sirte is the most significant Daesh stronghold outside Iraq and Syria.
Earlier this week warplanes bombed Daesh positions in Sirte while naval forces fired missiles into the port, officials said. The offensive continues.
The forces, aligned to the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli, began the battle to re-take the city last month.
Their spokesman, General i, said senior Daesh leaders had fled into the desert to the south, but that many militants were still under siege in the city centre.
Sirte was the hometown of ousted ruler Muammar Gadaffi.
The unity government was formed in Tripoli more than two months ago.
"The operation will not last much longer," Muhammad al-Ghusri said.
He added that the forces hoped "to be able to announce the release of Sirte in two or three days."
Pro-government forces have for weeks been encircling the city in the hopes of recapturing it from the militants.
Clashes in Sirte on Friday left 11 brigade members dead and 35 wounded. More than 100 fighters from the GNA-backed brigades have been killed and more than 500 wounded since the campaign to recapture Sirte began in early May.
The Daesh started expanding into Libya in 2014 as the political turmoil and conflict in the country worsened. It took full control of Sirte last year, but has struggled to retain territory or win support elsewhere in Libya.
As the brigades based in Misrata have advanced on Sirte from the west, a separate force that controls some of Libya's key oil terminals and is also aligned with the GNA has pushed Islamic State back from the east. They reached Harawa, a town about 70 km from Sirte, on Thursday.
The loss of Sirte would be a huge setback for the Daesh as the ultra-radical group faces a major offensive backed by the Americans and Russians in Iraq and Syria - two countries where it is well established.
The offensive against the port city located 450 kilometers east of Tripoli is being conducted by land, air and maritime forces.
[Source: NNN Agencies, Tripoli, 11Jun16]
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