Libya captures ISIL-held military base near Sirte

Gardabiya Air Base 30km southwest of Sirte captured after four weeks of heavy fighting, Libyan officials say.

    Forces loyal to Libya's UN-backed unity government have captured a military base near the city of Sirte from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters, officials said.

    The capture of Gardabiya Air Base on Saturday is part of an ongoing military campaign to drive the armed group out of its stronghold of Sirte.

    "Heavy fire and the determination of our young people have caused the gunmen to run away … but they have left behind mines and booby-trapped cars,” Abdul-Atti Mseimer of the Forces of al-Buniyan al-Marsous said.

    READ MORE: How serious is the ISIL threat in Libya?

    Government forces are closing in on the city, the birthplace of the country's former leader Muammar Gaddafi, after four weeks of fighting. 

    Ziad Hadia, Sirte representative in the parliament based in eastern Libya, said more than 2,000 ISIL fighters are thought to be holed up in the city.

    Foreign fighters, mostly from Tunisia and sub-Saharan Africans, account for more than 85 percent of the fighters, he added.

    Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, in comments published by French newspaper Journal du Dimanche, said his government needs international intelligence and technical assistance to defeat ISIL, "not air strikes".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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