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ISIS Loses Sirte Stronghold, But Can Rival Governments Remain In Control?

The Libyan military, supported by American airstrikes, announced the takeover of the last areas of Sirte under Islamic State control on Tuesday.

Libya’s newly formed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli began its advance against ISIS in the coastal city three months ago.

Since the beginning of August, U.S. airstrikes have aided Libyan efforts to eradicate the terrorist group’s presence in its former North African stronghold.

A total of 48 strikes have been carried out against ISIS vehicles, weapons and fighting positions since last Wednesday, according to the U.S. Africa Command.

Brigades from the western city of Misrata banded together to fight against ISIS forces in Sirte. The groups secured key areas to the south of the city last week, before facing neighborhood Number 2. "On Tuesday morning clashes erupted ... that led successfully to the recapture of neighborhood Number 2 with the cooperation of a tank unit to confront Islamic State snipers,” Rida Issa, who represents U.S. and Libyan forces, said. "The neighborhood is now completely under control of our forces.”

ISIS control over Sirte began last year, after which the terrorist group used the city to receive fighters from abroad.

Several other local reports indicate that forces under the purview of the Libyan National Army, which rivals the GNA, may clash with oil port guards in eastern Libya.

The Petroleum Facilities Guard, affiliated with the GNA, recently signed export deals involving the ports now under threat of attack.

General Khalifa Haftar, the commander in chief of the LNA, is unlikely to allow the deal to continue with his formal approval, according to The Digital Journal.

Haftar’s House of Representatives (HoR) government is apparently open to creating a merged national oil company, but not without changes to the signed deal.

HoR controls PFG’s rival firm, the Tripoli-based National Oil Company.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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