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GNA-Loyal Forces in Sirte Predict it Will Take Weeks Before Civilians Can Return to Their Homes

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

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Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous forces said it will take them weeks to be able to remove mines and explosives left behind by ISIS in Sirte.

“All the city’s residential areas were planted with mines and explosives,” said General Mohamed Geneidi, a commander in the Libyan forces, loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

“Removing (them) will take some time,” said the commander. “We hope this will be completed… within a month and a half.”

The Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous fighters announced their victory in Sirte on Monday which was a major blow for the terrorist group, however, some parts of the city are deemed dangerous and out of access until they are cleared.

ISIS left behind bombs “on the sides of houses, in gardens, on doors, in fridges, even the furniture. We found explosives in kitchens and bedrooms,” said Geneidi.

One of the challenges the Libyan forces face is having to clear neighbourhoods in Sirte of mines and other explosives using basic equipment.

ISIS moved into Sirte, which had a population of 80,000, in June 2015 and managed to establish a stronghold in the coastal city. The terrorist group had aims to expand its rule across Libya and eventually to Europe.

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 by launching an airstrike campaign against ISIS.

Over 260 bodies of ISIS fighters were found by the Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous troops, said a source from the GNA-loyal forces.

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