Libyan forces claim advances in last Islamic State stronghold

Forces aligned to Libya's UN-backed unity government Tuesday said they had captured one of three remaining Islamic State-held districts in the city of Sirte, the extremist group's last stronghold in the North African country.

Forces of the Bunyan Marsous Operation seized Sirte's Second District, Ahmed Ruaiti of the operation's media office told dpa.

The advances leave the militants surrounded in the city's central First and Third districts, with their only apparent escape route by sea.

Islamic State controlled a 250-kilometre stretch of Libya's central Mediterranean coast before forces aligned to the nascent Government of National Accord began operations against it in May.

The jihadist organization built up its presence in Libya in 2015, taking advantage of a conflict between rival governments based in Tripoli and in the east of the country.

Analysts said it had sent senior figures to Libya as its main territory in Syria and Iraq came under pressure from Kurdish and Iraqi government forces backed by an intensive US-led air campaign.

The nascent national unity government led by Prime Minister Fayez Serraj was intended to overcome the country's divide. However, the administration in eastern Libya, and its powerful military chief Khalifa Haftar, have so far refused to back Serraj.

In recent weeks, Haftar's forces have reportedly moved towards the central eastern oil port of Zueitina, raising fears of a military confrontation between militias aligned to the two governments.

Libya has suffered from military and political chaos since the overthrow of long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi in a 2011 uprising.

Last update: Tue, 16/08/2016 - 21:06
Author: 

More from World

Reports: Wife of Orlando gay nightclub shooter arrested in California

The wife of the man who killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in Florida in June has been arrested, according to news...

Five killed in shooting in Mexico after music festival

A shooting early Monday at a Mexican beach disco where people had gathered at the end of a music festival killed...

Four Turkish police officers killed by blast in south-east

A blast killed four Turkish police officers in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir on Monday, the state-run Anadolu...

Trump's 'obsolete' NATO comments rattle EU foreign ministers

US president-elect Donald Trump's criticism of NATO has been met with "concern" by the military alliance's top...

Burundi to withdraw AU troops from Somalia over salaries unpaid by EU

Burundi will withdraw its 5,400 troops serving as part of an African Union contingent in Somalia because the...