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20 loyalist troops killed fighting in Libya’s Sirte

More than 100 wounded in clashes with ISIS militants in the coastal city of Sirte on Friday

Published: Updated:

Twenty Libyan unity government fighters were killed and more than 100 wounded Friday in clashes with ISIS militants in their coastal stronghold of Sirte, pro-government forces said.

Fighting was fiercest around Sirte’s conference center, which has become a command headquarters for ISIS at the heart of the city, a statement from forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) said.

It said 20 fighters were killed and 105 wounded, updating an earlier toll of seven dead and 49 wounded. The group said on Twitter that two ISIS militants, a Libyan and an Egyptian, carried out suicide car bombings in southern Sirte targeting government forces.

Pro-GNA forces launched an operation in May to recapture the city 450 kilometers east of Tripoli, after the jihadists overran it in June last year. Sirte’s fall would be a major blow to IS, which has faced a series of setbacks in Syria and Iraq.

The two-month battle for Sirte has killed around 250 pro-government fighters and wounded more than 1,400, according to medical sources at the unity forces’ command center. A militia set up to guard the country’s main oil facilities has also been advancing on ISIS.