(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
On Friday, a group of women strapped with bombs blew themselves up killing four Libyan soldiers in Sirte who gave them safe passage out of an ISIS controlled building, said a spokesperson for the forces loyal to the Libyan government.
When the fighting calmed down for a short period on Friday, a Reuters reporter witnessed a woman taking three children to Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous soldiers who awaited them at the end of an alleyway.
As soon as the children were safely taken away by an ambulance the woman set off the bombs, injuring close to a dozen individuals.
The forces backed by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) have neared the end of their battle with ISIS which began six months ago. However, the ISIS fighters that remain have slowed the advances of the Libyan brigades by retaliating with suicide bombs, mines, sniper fire and booby traps.
The Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous forces, another name given to the Libyan forces, are also being very cautious when advancing to avoid civilian casualties.
This is not the first time something like this takes place said Risa Issa, the spokesperson for Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous forces. The suicide attack by a woman escorting children has happened twice before.
The suicide attacks killed 4 Libyan soldiers and injured 38 others, according to Issa.
In the beginning of the week, fighting between the Libyan forces and ISIS had paused until the government loyal forces resumed fighting on Thursday.
Despite the pressure that has been put on ISIS by the GNA loyal forces on the ground and US airstrikes, ISIS has continued to hold on to a small area in the centre of Sirte. The terrorist group was also able to retake control of several building, which were nearly destroyed from earlier battles.
By Thursday the US airstrike campaign, which began on August 1, had fired a total of 470 airstrikes on ISIS targets.
According to Issa, Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous field commanders say they have noticed that ISIS has stepped up its fighting on Friday from a specific building where senior ISIS fighters could be hiding.
A number of families who were kept hostage were either released or escaped ISIS in the last few weeks.
Issa said that an investigation has been launched to look into the recent suicide attacks.
“The investigation will tell us whether these women were fighting with Daesh (ISIS), or if they were captives,” Issa said.