libya flag, oružje.jpg
Photograph: Photo by BRQ Network, used under CC BY

Forces loyal to Libya's internationally backed unity government managed Wednesday to advance deep into the western parts of Islamic State's main stronghold, Sirte city, a senior military official told dpa on condition of anonymity.

The forces took control of the areas of Gharbiat bridge, which the extremist group used to execute its victims, Zaafran roundabout at the entrance of the city and Jalet military camp, located about 5 kilometers from the city centre, the source added.

The source gave no further details on the onslaught.

Nearby hospitals received the bodies of six troops and 30 others injured during fierce fighting between the two sides, announcing a state of emeregency, al-Wasat reported, Libya's independent al-Wasat news portal reported, citing hospital officials.

Sirte is centrally located on the North African country's Mediterranean coast. On Monday, the forces forced the militants to retreat into Sirte after achieving major advances there.

Pro-government units now have control over Sirte's civil and military airports as well as areas to the west and south-west of the city. Boats are monitoring the coast to prevent the extremist group's fighters fleeing by sea.

Monday’s development points to a rapid advance by forces loyal to the nascent unity government, whose Presidency Council started operating in the capital Tripoli in March.

Last week, paramilitaries that have also declared their loyalty to the government captured the towns of Nofaliyeh and Ben Jawad east of Sirte.

But military units backing a rival government based in the eastern city of Tobruk have also been advancing on Sirte from the south.

Islamic State took advantage of a 2014 split between rival governments based in Tripoli and Tobruk to seize territory along the sparsely populated central coast.

Analysts say the group has brought seasoned fighters from Syria and Iraq to bolster its presence in Libya. Islamic State fighters coming from Libya have also perpetrated attacks in neighbouring Tunisia.

World powers hope that the planned government of national accord will be able to form united security forces to take on Islamic State, as well as potentially having a mandate to authorize outside military assistance such as airstrikes.

However, under the UN-backed peace plan the full unity government cannot take office until it is approved by the Tobruk parliament, where allies of the assembly's powerful military chief, General Khalifa Haftar, are blocking a vote.

Libya has suffered from chaos since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Gaddafi, with numerous revolutionary militias formed along regional and ideological lines vying for power.

Latest news

Danish premier and opposition leader reject EU referendum

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen and the leader of the main opposition Social Democrats both reject staging a referendum on the country's membership of the European Union as suggested by eurosceptics.

French PM slams "irresponsible" Fillon over "near-civil war" comment

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve hit back Monday at conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon, accusing him of being "irresponsible" for saying the race was taking place in a climate of "near-civil war."

Serbia opens two more policy areas in its EU accession talks

Serbia on Monday opened two new policy areas in its EU entry talks, thus bringing the number of opened policy areas to eight.

EC: Economic sentiment for Croatia deteriorates in February

The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI), a composite indicator made up of five sectoral confidence indicators, deteriorated for Croatia in February with the subdued confidence of companies from the services and retail sectors having a higher weight than improving consumers' confidence, according to a report released by the European Commission on Monday.

Frankfurt, London exchange operators' stock fall on merger doubts

Shares in the operators of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the Deutsche Boerse fell sharply on Monday after the LSE threw fresh doubts on their planned 29-billion-euro (30.1-billion-dollar) merger to forge Europe's biggest exchange.

ICJ asks Bosnia's leadership to state its position on review request

The State Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina will have to make a clear statement as to whether it supports the request for a review of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) genocide ruling against Serbia, the Croat member of the country's three-member presidency, Dragan Covic, said on Monday.

White Helmets, grateful for Oscar nod, hope for peace in Syria

Members of the Syria Civil Defence group, a neutral team of some 3,000 volunteers providing aid to Syria's rebel-held areas, expressed joy on Monday that a film documenting their work won an Oscar for best short documentary.

Arson attack at French cultural institute in Athens

Unknown assailants have carried out an arson attack on the French cultural institute in Athens, the fire brigade and police reported on Monday.

INA Group posts core business profit of HRK 607 mn

The INA oil and gas group made positive results in 2016, with profit from operations reaching HRK 607 million, compared to a HRK 1.34 billion loss for 2015, the Zagreb-headquartered group stated in a consolidated financial report issued on Monday.

Report: Former Croatian football star Cvetkovic found dead

The former Yugolsavia international and Bundesliga defender Zvezdan Cvetkovic has died, the Croatian state broadcaster HRT reported Monday.

Youth who posted anti-Serb stickers in Vukovar placed in custody

Following a police investigation, a 19-year-old youth from the eastern town of Vukovar, suspected of posting anti-Serb stickers on bus stops along the town's Trpinjska Street, has been placed in custody on the suspicion of inciting violence and hatred, the county police department said on Monday.

US strongly condemns neo-Nazi march in Zagreb

The US Embassy in Zagreb on Monday strongly condemned neo-Nazi and pro-Ustasha views expressed during a demonstration by several dozen people, organised by the non-parliamentary far-right Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights (A-HSP) in Zagreb on Sunday.