Libyan forces said on Tuesday (December 6) they had cleared the final district of former ISIS (ISIL, IS, Daesh) stronghold of Sirte in which the terrorists group had been holding out.
Rida Issa, a spokesman for the forces, said they had “secured all the buildings and the streets” in the Ghiza Bahriya area, where ISIS terrorists have dug in for weeks.
ISIS took over Sirte in early 2015, setting up its most important base outside the Middle East and extending its control along about 250 km (150 miles) of Mediterranean coastline.
Militants had been clinging on in a few dozen buildings in Ghiza Bahriya for weeks.
In recent days, Libyan forces say dozens of women and children have escaped or been freed from the area, and Lajnef said at least 10 more left militant-held ground on Monday.
“I was scared to go out, but then I did, thinking I’ll surrender myself and I’ll go out, so they secured me and we went out.
Thank goodness,” a woman who said she was the wife of an ISIS terrorists , said.
The presence of the families had been one of the factors complicating attempts to push forward into the final sliver of land held by ISIS, and several women carried out suicide attacks as they were being granted safe passage.
“Full control over Sirte has been announced, thank goodness, there is no trace of ISIS left now in this city, Reuters reports.
We have some people left still and we’re combing the area for mines and bombs, and thank goodness, the battle today was fierce, there was a large number of suicide bombers, but a large number of families and children were rescued,” said Libyan fighter Mohamed Al-Sabty, as groups of people celebrated.
Forces led by brigades from the western city of Misrata launched a counter-attack against the terrorist group in May, and since August 1 the United States has carried out more than 490 air strikes to support them.