Libyan pro-government forces killed at least 10 Islamic State group jihadists as they attempted to flee their besieged stronghold of Sirte, the country’s unity government said on Sunday.
“Our forces exterminated a group from the Daesh gang that were trying to escape,” said the forces in a statement, using an alternative name for IS. They said their fighters had recovered the bodies of at least 10 jihadists and were chasing another group that had fled the town, 450 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli. Forces allied with the Government of National Accord have cornered the group in Sirte, the birthplace of ousted dictator Moamer Kadhafi, since launching an offensive on May 12. But suicide bombings and sniper fire from the surrounded jihadists slowed the assault.
On Saturday, GNA aircraft conducted six sorties in preparation for an advance on the jihadists’ hideout in the city’s east, said the GNA statement. American aircraft have also carried out some 177 airstrikes since early August in support of GNA forces, according to US Africa Command (AFRICOM).
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The fighting has left some 450 GNA fighters dead and 2500 wounded. The death toll among IS fighters is not known. An IS defeat in Sirte would be a serious blow to the group, which has faced major setbacks in Iraq and Syria in recent months.