As brigades aligned with the Libyan government close in on the ISIS-controlled state of Sirte, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj says that “total victory” over the group’s stronghold is expected soon.
Ghardabiya air base, which is 12 miles from the city’s center, was captured on Saturday. This effectively cuts off the Islamic State’s supply routes, “[trapping] them further” within the city, Reuters reports. According to the Associated Press there are over 2,000 ISIS fighters in the city, over 85% of which are foreign, mainly from Tunisia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Brigadier General Mohammed al-Gosry told the AP that Libyan forces “are officially in Sirte and only days away from controlling the center of the city.”
“This total victory against IS in Sirte is near. We will be able to also take control of all these zones it has occupied,”al-Sarraj told French newspaper the Journal du Dimanche. “We also hope that this war against terrorism can unite Libya. But it will be long. And the international community knows it.” He added that Libya didn’t need airstrikes to fight the group, but rather international intelligence and technical assistance.
The prime minister, a political newbie, was appointed this year by the UN. He has previously worked for the social security administration and the public works department, and was the commissioner in charge of supervising public projects.