US-backed forces in Libya liberate most of IS group stronghold of Sirte
August 11, 2016
Image: the city of Sirte now a shell of its former self
U.S.-backed forces in Libya liberated most of the city of Sirte, the Islamic State group's last bastion in the country, after seizing several strategic locations in the past 24 hours under cover of U.S. airstrikes, a Libyan official said Thursday.
Mokhtar Khalifa, the Sirte mayor, told The Associated Press that the city's southern and western sections are under control of the Libyan fighters loyal to the U.N.-brokered government in Tripoli, the country's capital.
"Sirte is 70 percent free, it will soon be completely free," he said.
IS militants seized Sirte, the hometown of Libya's former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, in 2015 and Libyan pro-government forces launched an operation to retake it in June.
After an initial push into Sirte, the advance stalled. The city's coastline and a former Gadhafi convention center proved the biggest challenge because of IS snipers positioned on rooftops, roadside bombs planted along the streets and IS suicide bombers.
Upon the Tripoli government's request, U.S. warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes targeting IS positions in Sirte starting Aug. 1, breaking the stalemate.
"The international support has made a big difference" in the battle against IS in Sirte, Khalifa said.
Then on Wednesday, the Libyan fighters, mainly from the western city of Misrata, captured the sprawling convention center known as Ouagadougou, which IS had turned into its headquarters. The forces had earlier taken the main hospital named Ibn Sina, and the city's university.
Photographs posted on social media of the operation in Sirte show Libyan fighters in mismatched uniforms flashing the "V'' sign for victory from atop of a tank. Others showed the outside gates of the convention center.
Libya descended into chaos following Gadhafi's ouster in 2011. The country has been split between rival parliaments and governments, based in Tripoli and the country's far east, each backed by an array of militias and tribes.
In December last year, the United Nations struck a deal with Libya's rival factions to create the unity government led by Fayez Serraj. He still needs a crucial vote of confidence from the internationally-recognized parliament, based in eastern Libya.
Don’t forget our elders can suffer in silence too: suicide prevention
Many people think that mental health and suicide are not topics that impact our elders but they could not be more wrong. The data tells us there continues to be an emerging trend when it comes to peop...
Wherever you look these days, not matter the developed country, whole population groups and peoples struggle with the daily grind of life. From children in state care to mental health, from affordable housing to the primary health system and from education to employmen...
For the last few years I have been fortunate to have been involved in the aged care sector and have seen both the lows and highs. Today we live in a world where most of us are living longer thank to more awareness around healthy living, the advancement of better medica...
You can’t go past a news paper, radio show or television news story these days without being flooded by all things Bitcoin or Crypto Currency. Some say it’s the new world of money while others suggest its all just a passing fad. Whatever your position or preference of...
The New Zealand Maori Council has called on the Government to step in and ensure the recommendations made by the Children’s Commissioner in respect of youth detention facilities be implemented without delay. The Report released to the previous Government carried a seri...