Libyan forces re-capture Sirte from Islamic State militants

Libyan forces battling so-called Islamic State in Sirte say they have now taken over the last remaining area in the city where the militants were holed up.

It has been a long and deadly battle, but it will be welcomed by thousands who had to flee their homes and by the international community.

The battle to recapture the city took more than six months of fighting and cost the pro-government force hundreds of lives, with ISIS launching counter-attacks and using snipers, suicide car bombs and improvised explosive devices to maintain control of the city.

Forces loyal to the Tripoli based Government of National Accord (GNA) received the backing of US air strikes in the final stages of the fight to retake the town. The insurgents had been fighting back usually using suicide bomb attacks.

The last group of buildings in the Ghiza Bahriya neighbourhood, where the militants were holding out, had fallen to troops led by brigades from Misrata, spokesman Rida Issa disclosed.

Sirte – on the south coast of the Gulf of Sidra and lies halfway between the capital, Tripoli and the town of Benghazi – is the birthplace of Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for close to five decades was killed in 2011 after western forces invaded the country.

Libya has since been split among rivals governments ruling different parts. IS took advantage to seize parts of Sirte – the birthplace of Gaddafi and where he was killed.

Although this does not spell the end of the radical group’s presence in the country, it does significantly weaken them.

In the weeks and months ahead, Libya’s politicians and rival administrations will need to start finding tangible solutions to the conflict, which led to Sirte’s dramatic fall into is hands.

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