By Libya Herald staff.
Sirte, 13 February 2015:
In their boldest move so far, supporters of the Islamic State in Sirte appear to have . . .[restrict]extended their hold over the town today, seizing its Ibn Sina hospital. Meanwhile other IS fighters are reported to have attacked oilfields southeast of the town.
They in turn are said to be being targeted by LNA fighter planes.
A military convoy carrying IS flags reportedly surrounded the hospital this morning and ordered Misrata-based Central Libya Shield which has been providing security there to leave. They told them take all the patients in the hospital with them.
Libya Shield have apparently done so, removing the sick and wounded to Misrata. Unconfirmed reports claim the Sirte hospital is now flying the IS flag.
According to reports from Mabruk oilfield guards, IS gunmen also launched attacks on the nearby Bahi and Dahra oilfields, both operated by Waha Oil. Fighting with Petroleum Facilities Guards protecting the fields, which started last night, was said to still be continuing this evening although there are reports that LNA aircraft have started bombing IS vehicles.
Ten days ago, IS fighters attacked Mabruk, killing nine guards and seizing three Filipinos.
All three fields are south-west of Sidra, itself under attack from Operation Sunrise forces, linked to Libya Dawn.
In circumstances very similar to what happened in Derna, Sirte has in the past few months been slowly taken over by Islamist forces. But these are now seen as coalescing around IS. The hospital seizure is but the latest in a series of moves in recent days demonstrating its power. The day before yesterday, IS took control of Sirte immigration centre, without any opposition. Yesterday it took over a local radio station as well as the studios of Wataniya TV, set up by the Qaddafi regime for use whenever there was an international conference at the town’s Ouagadougou centre.
The latter was taken over by IS last week and is reportedly being split into an Islamic court and a college for women.
The militants, who were already broadcasting locally on FM from other studios, have now started broadcasting on AM from the seized radio station. The TV station is currently non-operational. The IS in Sirte had already announced plans to set up a separate TV station in Sirte, named Tawheed. It too is not operating.
Forces claims allegiance to IS are now operating freely in the surrounding area. Earlier this week, they took over the small desert town of Nawfaliya 145 kilometres east of Sirte.
There are unconfirmed reports that some of the IS fighters were previously part of Operation Sunrise. However, there is growing murderous divide between the IS and regulars from Misrata who have been the backbone of Sunrise.
Earlier this week, the decapitated bodies of first three, then another four members of Misrata’s Third Force were found west of Sirte. IS has been blamed. [/restrict]