By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli and Tunis, 4 June 2016:
Misratan-led Bunyan Marsous forces have driven IS terrorists out of the key Gardabiya . . .[restrict]airbase in a final battle which today cost the lives of four soldiers with 14 others injured.
Earlier in the day IS had boasted that it had thrown back an attack killing nine Misratans and injuring 15 others. In event, it appears that the terrorists retreated fromthe airbase and its adjacent civilian airport and headed northwards toward Sirte, which is 15 kilometres away .
IS also indicated in social media posts that they had established a defensive at Harawa, around 70 kilometres east of Sirte. It also claimed to have released prisoners in Sirte, but the identity of those freed was unclear, as was why they should have been let go.
Morale among the predominantly Misratan fighters is said to be high, though their progress is still being hampered by a significant number of mines and booby traps left behind by the terrorists. There were no devastating truck bombs (SVBIED) attacks today, leading to speculation that IS may be conserving the vehicles and explosives it still has available.
Today the Bunyan Marsous operations room spokesman Mohammed Al-Ghasri denied persistent reports that foreign troops are fighting on the front line. One journalist reported last week being told by a Misratan soldier that he had seen British special forces on the ground. Another claim was that an SVBIED had been destroyed by British fire before it could reach its target.
Ghasri said only Libyans were fighting IS. He said that some 700 terrorists had been killed since the start of Bunyan Marsous but warned that IS still had considerable strength in Sirte itself. He added that therefore it was important that the UN arms embargo be lifted to allow weapons and ammunition to be brought to the frontline.
However those arms and ammunition may not be arriving any time soon. The UN Security Council last month agreed to lift the arms embargo for the Presidency Council but a UN spokesman said that Government of National Accord prime minister-designate Faiez Serraj had yet to submit a detailed request for arms.
“The Libyan Government of National Accord will need to provide reassurance when making requests to the UN sanctions committee that there is no risk of arms exports being diverted to terrorist groups,” said an unnamed diplomat, quoted by News 24.
The diplomat continued: “It will take time for the GNA to put in place the necessary measures, such as secure storage facilities. The request may therefore still take some time to issue.” [/restrict]