Libya celebrates on December 17 the second liberation anniversary of Sirte, from the Islamic State (IS) amid mounting fears of IS attempts to regroup and entrench itself in some places in Libya.
Marking the anniversary of Sirte liberation announcement, Presidency Council recalled the 8-month battle against ISIS in a Monday statement.
It was stated that the city located 450 kilometres east of Tripoli was finally announced free of ISIS by head of UN-backed Government of the National Accord (GNA), Faiez Sarraj on December 17, 2016.
بيان للمجلس الرئاسي في ذكرى تحرير سرت pic.twitter.com/LjghIi74Zr
— حكومة الوفاق الوطني (@LGNAMedia) December 17, 2018
The statement however, expressed fears that the fight against terrorism in Libya, might not be over yet.
“Liberation of Sirte has not completely combated the terrorist organizations in Libya’s cities, as some of the militants seek to regroup themselves at other places, and they have some hotbeds, from which they carry out their criminal acts,” the statement said.
The Presidency Council further remarked that the military institutions should be unified under one executive authority to uproot terrorists from Libya.
“Through our reform program, we have gone into another battle targeting Libya’s construction and development, which is as important as the battle we fought to liberate Sirte. In order to win, a national reconciliation should be reached and all state institutions should be unified,” the council concluded.
Meanwhile, an Italian-based website ‘AGC news’ announced on Sunday that some IS militants are found near Jebel Nafusa which runs from the municipality of Al-Rajban to Zintan in western Libya.
As AGC news quoted some local social media, ISIS announced its presence in Jebel Nafusa, distributing leaflets, threatening to assassinate the leaders of the armed forces and local police.
Since Muammar Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, some areas of the war-torn country have been controlled by IS militants, particularly Sirte, the very hometown of Gaddafi.
Religious education became mandatory in the city, and they established their own police force, introducing gender segregation at schools, banning alcohol, and imposing Draconian punishments such as cutting off limbs and beheading people.
In the late 2016, IS militants were largely forced out from Sirte by the Government of National Accord forces (GNA) in the cooperation with the U.S.
The GNA requested air-strike support from the U.S., which officially joined the battle on Aug. 1, 2016. These attacks have continued until the end of 2016, and by Dec. 6, 2016, IS was finally defeated at Sirte.
IS suffered heavy losses in the attacks as several of its senior figures were killed, including Waleed al-Farjani, a senior judge of the Islamic court in Sirte, the Egyptian Abu Omar al-Muhajir and Fayez Al-Bidi, an imam from Benghazi, was reportedly killed in an airstrike around Dec. 4, 2016.