Libya: Battle for Sirte

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The Government of National Accord-aligned forces from Misrata have been conducting a military operation in the ISIS Libyan stronghold of Sirte. Misrata Brigades have pushed ISIS militants from the city’s nearby areas, however, they have faced complexities after entering the city.

The ISIS terrorist group set fortifications in the populated areas and mined the main roads, heading to the city center. Misrata forces can not use their advantage in military equipment and air power in urban areas while a lack of forward air controllers further reduces the effectiveness of air strikes. These factors have slowed down the advance, significantly.

Misrata sources say that some 5000 ISIS militants defend Sirte while experts believes that the ISIS terrorist group has only about 2500 fighters in the city. Many of them have no battle expirience. In the modern situation, it’s clear that Sirte will be seized by Misrata Brigades earlier or later.

While Misrata Brigades hold the areas south to the ISIS-controlled Sirte, the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PCG), controlled by Ibrahim Jathran, control the areas at the eastern flank of the city. ISIS militants could retreat from the city to the south. In this case, they will pose a threat to oil infrastructure in the southern parts of Libya. It’s hard to expect that Misrata Brigades or PCG will follow up the ISIS force. These groups are interested to show a control of Sirte amid the ongoing standoff for the power in the country.

However, Western experts believe that ISIS won’t be able to deal a significant damage to the oil infrastructure in southern Libya:

  • The group doesn’t have enough manpower for this;
  • This will conduct a stiff asnwer from the local clans, interested in the oil buisiness, that will worsen ISIS chances to survive in the North African country;

However, the group could use the areas in southern Libya for cross-border attacks against other African countries.

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