Forces allied with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) announced Friday that they seized Sirte port, gaining more victories against the stronghold of Islamic State (IS) in Libya.
The forces are a part of a large operation led by the UN-backed GNA that arrived to Tripoli in March and are working towards gaining more control.
The fall of the city will be a major victory against the terror group that started to expand in Libya in 2014 during a time of turmoil in the oil-rich country due to political upheaval.
IS members are now besieged inside a 5km area. Foreign governments estimate that there are 5,000 IS militia inside the city.
The forces are expected to take over the entire city of Sirte in a few days after breaking into its centre.
“We’re encouraged by the progress they’re making,” said US special envoy Brett McGurk. “Once you have a credible force on the ground that moves against them [IS], there is a chance that they could crack pretty quickly.”
The Libyan prime minister Fayez Al-Sarraj called Friday on “all military forces to unite in the face of our common enemy… and to join the victorious forces”.
The US said earlier it has a small force in Libya for intelligence operation against IS.
After much deliberation, the international community is making moves that indicate it is ready to consider lifting the arms embargo on Libya, which was imposed in 2011 as the oil-rich country slipped into turmoil amid the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Years later, the country is still living in a world of day-to-day conflict. The new GNA, an interim government supported by the United Nations, is fighting for a fortified position in the capital, Tripoli amid threats from several militant groups, including IS.