Last week, BM forces in Sirte made further advances into ISIS-held areas. On 21 October, Rida Issa, a spokesman for the BM forces said “the forces have completely recaptured the 600 block area in Sirte from gangs of Daesh, and now the Ghiza Bahriya area is the last pocket of resistance.” On 20 October, five foreigners who had been held captive by ISIS were freed following fighting that killed 20 ISIS fighters, while on 22 October, BM forces freed 13 more foreigners including a Turk, an Egyptian and 11 Eritrean women.
As the BM forces have slowly claimed more territory from ISIS, they have encountered abandoned ISIS defences. These include improvised tunnels, bunkers built under the foundations of buildings and fridges filled with earth which act as barricades. A makeshift field hospital was discovered in one abandoned building last week. BM forces have increasingly been using tanks and heavily armoured vehicles to clear paths through built up areas.
On 23 October, ISIS’ media arm Amaq reported that it had destroyed a vehicle transporting BM fighters on the coastal road west of Sirte using an IED detonation. A Palestinian man was killed and his family injured by an IED or land mine on the same road. Several roadside bombs were also found on the outskirts of Sirte last week, including near a field hospital and a helicopter landing area. These incidents indicate that some ISIS forces have seeped out of the city and are able to launch pinprick attacks.
In Benghazi, clashes are ongoing between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and jihadi groups in the Ganfuda and Sabri/Souq al-Hout areas, where fighters from the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) and ISIS are resisting LNA advances. On October 23, ISIS targeted LNA observation posts and positions in Gawarsha, an area in south west Benghazi, with SPG-9s and heavy machine guns.