U.S.-Backed Libyan forces said Wednesday that they took over ISIS’ headquarters in the coastal city of Sirte, their last stronghold in the country.
Mohamed al-Ghassri, a spokesman for the U.S.-backed militia force, said in a statement broadcast on Misurata TV that the Ouagadougou Center and a nearby hospital had been captured. Both of them were used as ISIS’ headquarters.
The Libyan forces released a statement on their Facebook page saying, “Sirte is returning to Libya.”
ISIS has been using the complex for religious instruction and meetings since they took hold of the city last year.
The Libyan fighters began their campaign for the city back in June, and if the claims are true, it will be the biggest advance the fighters have made. The fighters said that the airstrikes that the United States have been conducted have helped them with their advance on the city. They’re advanced slowed after they got near the city’s center and they suffered many casualties from ISIS snipers and mines when they got closer to the center.
The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a press release on Tuesday that the total number of air strikes conducted were 29 and that “these actions, and those we have taken previously, will help deny Daesh[ISIS] a safe haven in Libya from which it could attack the United States and our allies.”
Sirte is the hometown of Libya’s former dictator, Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, who was killed in 2011 by anti-government militia fighters.
Officials at the Pentagon could not confirm that Libyan militia fighters seized control of the city.