Libyan forces suffer heavy losses in battle for Sirte

At least 34 Libyan pro-government forces have been killed and 100 wounded in clashes with ISIL militants as they prepared for a final assault on the extremist stronghold of Sirte.
It was one of bloodiest days since forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) launched an offensive in May to retake Sirte from the group.
The fighting came as 29 people were killed and dozens wounded further west in the town of Garabulli when a blast ripped through an arms depot after militiamen and armed residents clashed.
The fall of Sirte would be a major blow to ISIL which has faced a series of setbacks in Syria and Iraq where local forces and a US-led coalition are pressing an offensive against their positions.
A statement by the GNA said Tuesday’s fighting took place in several parts of Sirte, where the extremists are pinned down in pockets of the coastal city.
Speaking from the western city of Misurata, the source said the death toll had risen from 18 to 34, with the number of wounded increasing from 70 to 100.
It was one of the heaviest tolls since the pro-GNA forces launched an offensive in May to dislodge IS from Sirte – hometown of dictator Muammar Qaddafi which ISIL seized in June last year.
The GNA forces earlier said “dozens” of ISIL fighters had been killed within 24 hours.

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