(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Libyan forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) were able to free 14 civilians, many of the them women and children, from ISIS militants in Sirte, said the army’s media centre.
All the civilians who fled on Sunday were Libyan. Other rescued civilian groups included refugee women and children who were caught by ISIS on their route through Libya to Europe.
The Libyan brigades fighting in Sirte, most of which are from Misrata, said they are in the final stages in their battle against ISIS. The army’s advancement in Sirte has been slow in the hopes of limiting civilian casualties. The terrorist group has previously used civilians as human shields.
Libyan forces surrounded ISIS fighters in the Ghiza Bahriya neighbourhood, .
ISIS moved into Sirte, which had about 80,000 residents, in 2015 claiming dominance over the Libyan coastal city. ISIS had aims to expand its rule across Libya and eventually to Europe.
The terrorist group was able to make its way into Sirte after Libya fell into political chaos following the 2011 uprising that brought down the Gaddafi regime.
In May, Libyan brigades loyal to the GNA, many of them from Misrata, launched an offensive against ISIS in Sirte. The Libyan government made a request for military aerial support, and in August the US military responded to the request with an air strike campaign. So far the US has launched more than 360 air strikes.