ISIS forces are still entrenched within a roughly one square kilometre enclave in north-east Sirte and continue to inflict casualties on their Misratan opponents through their use of snipers and explosive devices. This week, the Misratan forces made further gains against the remaining ISIS fighters, with support from US air strikes.

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After a lull in fighting last week, Bunyan al-Marsus forces launched a fresh offensive on ISIS-held areas of Sirte. They sustained heavy losses, while in an area of the city supposedly secured by BM forces, a Dutch journalist was killed by an ISIS sniper.

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In Sirte, Misratan forces continue to battle ISIS fighters who remain barricaded in their stronghold in north-eastern Sirte. The Misratans suffered heavy losses last week after a renewed push to take the ISIS-held area, while ISIS fighters also launched a surprise attack against Sirte port.

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In Sirte, Misratan-led forces have begun a final push to destroy remaining  pockets of ISIS in Sirte, while clashes have broken out between ISIS fighters and other militias to the south of Sirte, confirming that some ISIS members have managed to seep out of the city.

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In Sirte, the Misratan-led Bunyan al-Marsus forces have continued to make gains against the remaining ISIS forces, which are now holed up in a very small section of the city. However, progress is slow because the Misratans continue to suffer losses from sniper fire and suicide attacks.

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The Misratan-led Al-Bunyan Al-Marsus forces are now very close to completely defeating ISIS in Sirte. The ISIS HQ in Sirte has been taken and was visited last week by the PM Fayez Al Serraj and some members of the GNA Presidential Council.

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In Sirte, fighting halted last week but resumed fiercely on 27 August. The break in the fighting was reportedly to allow wives and children of ISIS fighters to exit the conflict zone towards the southwest, though there is no evidence confirming this actually took place. It is likely that key ISIS commanders will have taken advantage of this lull in fighting to escape to the south, meaning the destruction of ISIS in Sirte will not mean the eradication of ISIS in Libya… On 28 August, Bunyan Marsus (BM) fighters aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA) closed in on ISIS-held districts 1 and 3 of Sirte. At least 35 were killed and more than 180 injured as a result of fierce fighting and reportedly 14 attempted SVBIED attacks by ISIS.

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The Bunyan Marsus coalition continued its steady advance deep into the center of Sirte, taking major residential areas throughout the week with the help of US airstrikes. ISIS militants still fighting in these areas continue to show fierce resistance using snipers, mortars and SVBIEDs, but the gains made by Bunyan Marsus indicate that the entirety of Sirte may be liberated within the next two weeks.

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The Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus coalition made great gains against ISIS in Sirte, pushing ISIS out of its stronghold in Ouagadougu Centre, Ibn Sina Hospital and Sirte University on 11 August. All three buildings were bastions of ISIS rule in the city, and the group’s downfall represents a significant degradation of its presence and control. Paradoxically, the GNA’s impending victory over ISIS is also a moment of rapid decline in its legitimacy. This observation was recognized by UN special envoy Martin Kobler in a recent interview, saying that popular support for the GNA is crumbling due to worsening economic and security conditions throughout Libya.

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Two major pronouncements were made this week. 1. Misratan forces continued their protracted advance into Sirte as battles supposedly moved into what Banyan Marsus is calling their ‘final stages’. 2. Simultaneously as the fight against ISIS has become less popular for some militia men in Tripoli, non-ISIS jihadis such as the grand mufti are expressing support for ISIS…. US support is also fuelling divides with Misratan ranks between pro-GNA formations and more anti-GNA hard-line militias. These divides may escalate the closer the BM gets to victory in Sirte. Anti GNA sentiment remains high in Misratan ranks, with many fighters rumoured to be actively ready to move against the GNA in Tripoli after victory in Sirte.

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After fierce fighting on 28-30 July, the Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus coalition took full control of the Hay Dollar area in Sirte. The operation has thus far cost more than 300 Bunyan Marsus lives, with another 1,500 injured… On 1 August, Government of National Accord Prime Minister Fayez Serraj made a televised speech announcing the beginning of US airstrikes against ISIS in Sirte, following a formal request by the Presidential Council.

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In western Libya, the Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus coalition made more gains against ISIS this week in Sirte. The coalition took control of the Hay El Dollar and Area “2” while continuing to conduct airstrikes against ISIS positions in the Ouagadougou complex. Despite these advances, the fight with ISIS is likely to be prolonged as the group continues to mount suicide vehicle attacks in a number of Misratan-controlled areas. The Sirte port remains under Bunyan Marsus control, despite continued ISIS attempts to retake the port using targeted suicide attacks.

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Fighting this week focused on the ISIS stronghold in the Ouagadougou Centre, Ibn Sina Hospital and Sirte University areas, with airstrikes and helicopter gunships featuring heavily in the battles. In short, very little progress is being made to dislodge ISIS from these areas. ISIS fighters still appear to have a presence in areas previously taken by Bunyan Marsus in Sirte’s south and west, and ISIS also appears to be attempting to flank Bunyan Marsus, indicating a more prolonged guerrilla war in the city.

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In Sirte, the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Bunyan Marsus coalition continues to advance in the city, tightening the noose around ISIS militants holed up in its central areas… Bunyan Marsus leaders have said they expect the battle to be completed within the next two weeks, although other analysts predict a more drawn out battle… There is a suspicion that the senior ISIS leadership has already evacuated from Sirte. Informed sources say that Libyan ISIS members have attempted to defect to friendly Islamist militias south of Sirte, some of whom are nominally aligned with the Misratans.

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The port of Sirte port is now reportedly under the control of the Government of National Accord’s Bunyan Marsus coalition, after it managed to fully recapture the Suwawa area from ISIS on 1 July. Last week saw intensive fighting, with Misratan fighters making significant advances into the city, retaking the Zafaraan area and 700 residential district on 2 July. Meanwhile, airstrikes and heavy artillery continued to pound ISIS targets throughout the week.

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The GNA’s Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus operations room launched a massive ground assault on 21 June in an attempt to capture the centre of Sirte. However, ISIS snipers and IED’s repeatedly dealt Bunyan Marsus significant losses throughout the week… At this time, Bunyan Marsus commanders estimate only 500-700 ISIS fighters remain in the city, contrary to higher estimates by the CIA and other foreign military sources.

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