By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 18 July 2016:
Misratan jets today bombed IS positions in Sirte as the battle to oust the terrorists approaches its tenth week.
Bunyan Marsous forces lost two men last night with nine injured in an IS counterattack. In a repeat of recent successes against them, a suicide bomber’s vehicle was destroyed before it could reach its objective. One commander claimed that the terrorists had suffered heavy losses in their sally.
The BM operations room has given no details of any of its own casualties today, as the ring is slowly tightened around the last main terrorist positions. These are principally the university, whose residential area was bombed today, the Ibn Sinah hospital and the Ouagadougou Centre. Though Misratan forces fighting through a built-up area, have got close to one part of this rambling complex, on the southern side they have a large area of farmland to cross.
The BM operations room has circulated footage of a tank firing across this open ground, which includes the sound of its round going home.
Snipers and booby traps remain a constant threat. There are reports that an experienced sapper was killed on Saturday trying to defuse an IED. Last month another de-miner was blown up and two of his assistants seriously injured trying to make safe a booby trap.
Besides bombs, there have also been Misratan airdrops of a leaflet behind IS lines, designed to undermine the defenders’ morale.
It reads: “As they look back and see you dying, your commanders are fleeing from the battle.” It continues “ Do you really think they are telling you the truth and have been honest about their plans in this fight? We see more and more of your commanders sneaking away and providing us with information on your locations and your movements”.
Washington certainly believes that higher casualties are sapping the strength of IS. John Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said today on a visit to Germany: “There is no question about it. They have suffered significant casualties.” Dunford added that the US now believed that there were “just a few hundred fighters left in Sirte itself”. He did not go on to say how many IS Washington thought might be elsewhere in the country.