LIBYAPROSPECT – London
After five months of battles against the Islamic State (IS) in the city of Sirte, the Operation “Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous” forces had started retreating despite the rapid advances they achieved.
In an analytical report, Anadolu News Agency (aa), LIBYAPROSPECT is translating here, raised a question about the reasons for the recent retreat of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous, besieging the IS elements in the last and tiny area of less than three kilometer square in north Sirte.
According to one of the leaders of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous, the main reason for the delay in completing the battle is that the IS elements are trying to use the civilians as human shields; adding that the IS fighters put bombing vehicles and mines.
He clarified that these reasons need specific capabilities, but it is not easy to convince everyone that these are the reasons, which are not related to how to deal with participant groups who fight against the IS.
The military operation named “Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous,” which started on 2/May before it was legitimized by the Presidential Council (PC) of the Government of National Accord (GNA).
In the same month, the operation “Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous” was able to liberate the regions Al-Sdada, Al-Weshka, Buerat Al-Hsoon, and Bograin west Sirte; especially when other fighters from different places in Libya joined Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous.
In early June, Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous surrounded the IS from several sides inside Sirte. Then the IS elements lost control on some vital locations, such as the airport, electricity station, Al-Gurdhabea military base, and other places including the District “700” in central Sirte.
In the July, the pace of the battles started retreating because Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous couldn’t carry on fighting inside residential areas, which needed more true military capabilities.
Then, in August, the head of the PC, Fayez Al-Sarraj, announced that the US air forces were ready to start supporting Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous so they can advance with lesser human casualties among the civilians.
During the same month, the forces of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous achieved significant victories; they controlled the sea port, university buildings, Al-Jeeza military, the IS broadcasting headquarter, and Ibn-Sina Hospital as well as Ouagadougou Complex, the main HQ for the IS. Then they controlled the districts “1”, “2” and a big part of the district “3”.
Since the beginning of September, the fighting confined to the area that the IS controlled, which is a small size of less than three square Kilometers.
The spokesperson of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous, Mohamed Al-Ghosry, said that the reasons for the delay in attacking the last and small area of the IS elements are the land mines they put around their surrounded area and they are trying to use the civilians as human shields.
According to the “aa” report, Al-Ghosry said that “our air forces bomb the targets around the last small stronghold of the IS, but we depend on the US air raids inside the location to avoid hitting civilians and families.”
He added stated the battles were easy for “us when we were fighting the IS in open areas, but now it had become so difficult in this small and overpopulated area,” adding that “we know that the IS elements are ready to suicide before losing the last area.”
Al-Ghosry said that “we lose fighters every day, and that is why we needed to revise our military plans carefully,” explaining that “we don’t need to be in a hurry as long as we are sure about our victory and liberating the whole city of Sirte.”
Al-Ghosry had revealed that “our plan is to let the IS be eroded from inside because the entirely besieged and no military supply and food reach them, especially under the continuity of the massive air raids, and one day we might break in without fighting.”
According to the “aa” report, Al-Ghosry said that “we think that after the end of the battles against the IS, most of our fighters would leave, especially the volunteers.” He raised the question of “who then would face the danger of the forces affiliated with the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk under the leadership of General Khalifa Haftar, which are stationed in Harawa area, just 90 km east Sirte?”
Al-Ghosry pointed that the IS elements inside the area are not more than 100 fighters, but “they will not surrender easily, they have women fighting with them and also wounded ones, who are ready to suicide and blow themselves, they will not hesitate to use children and civilians as human shields.”
Al-Ghosry also said that “controlling the entire district doesn’t mean the liberation of all of the city.” He clarified that “because we have many things to do, including combing operations and dismantling mines,” adding that “we have brigades fight the IS remnants, who come from the south through the desert ways, from time to time, to attack our back lines.”
The report said that despite all above reasons, which are may be accepted, militarily, it looks like there are political reasons for the delay of completing the fighting. The political decision is mixed up with the military decision in a divided country and a weak political agreement.
The “aa” report said that one of the field commanders expressed that he doesn’t like the PC as the supervisor of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous. The PC “did not provide any help or support to the fighters, it only issued statements and speeches as well as investing in the efforts of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous to get political rewards,” according to the commander.
The commander told the “aa” that “the fighting brigades are not affiliated to the PC because they fought against the IS without the permission of the PC or informing it, which caused the loss of many fighters, killed and injured.”
The commander, who asked not to be named, said that “when the US air forces joined the fights, the leadership of the operation started to issue suspicious decisions to stop advancing and give the chance for the US forces to carry out air strikes.”
He added that “there is who is benefited of the continuity of the battles without completing because the bill of the war is still open and it would be paid from Libya to the companies for treatment and logistic support while completing the battle means the bill is to be closed.”