- Title: Islamic State territory reduced to 'soccer field' size in Sirte - U.S. envoy
- Date: 6th November 2016
- Summary: AMMAN, JORDAN (NOVEMBER 6, 2016) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR GLOBAL COALITION TO COUNTER ISLAMIC STATE, BRETT MCGURK, ENTERING NEWS CONFERENCE MEDIA (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR GLOBAL COALITION TO COUNTER ISLAMIC STATE, BRETT MCGURK, SAYING: "I think if you look at the spokesman of Daesh (Islamic State) who is also their operational commander, Muhammad al-Adnani, he was the brain of all their external operations: Paris, Brussels - he is now dead. He said, in one of his last statements, 'You know we might actually lose Raqqa. We might lose Mosul.' But he talked about even going to Sirte, but he eventually said in his last statement before he died, 'We might actually lost Sirte as well.' Because they will lose Sirte. So six months ago in Libya there was no government. It was very hard to see who we could work with on the ground and some analysts, when they looked at the growth of Daesh in Libya described it as like a hockey stick like growth. It is just continuing to go up. So that's why when I was last here, I don't remember probably six months ago or so ago I probably did say, 'It's very concerning,' and it was." REPORTER'S HANDS ON LAPTOP (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR GLOBAL COALITION TO COUNTER ISLAMIC STATE, BRETT MCGURK, SAYING: "We worked very hard with the Libyans and with the UN special representative Martin Kobler who is doing a terrific job and my colleague, the special envoy for Libya, Jonathan Winer - to help their new government get established, get a foothold back in Tripoli and then work with forces who are loyal to the government to begin to fight back against Daesh in their sanctuary in Sirte. So this has now been ongoing for a few months. President Obama authorized air support which has also been ongoing. And actually, if you look at Sirte, Daesh has almost been entirely eliminated from Sirte. They're holding on to a patch of land that is the size a soccer field - a football field. And again they are suicidal. There's snipers and if you want to hold on to a little teeny patch of land you can do that. We do not use the same tactics as the Syrian regime or Russians and simply carpet bomb part of the city that there's some Daesh in. We are methodical as much as possible and so that is simply the case in Sirte. They have been defeated in Sirte and it is a matter of time until they lose this final foothold. And those fighters, those terrorists, who are in that foothold will all - they're fighting until the death and they will all get their wish." AMERICAN FLAG (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR GLOBAL COALITION TO COUNTER ISLAMIC STATE, BRETT MCGURK, SAYING: "So where we go from there in Libya is obviously to try to pull the country together and there's tremendous political discord between different factions in the country. We are encouraging all the factions to recognize the Government of National Accord (GNA) that includes General (Khalifa) Haftar in the east, and this is something that was part of our conversation here in Jordan. It's part of the conversations I have when I travel to other capitals here in the region. So number one: Make sure Daesh can have no sanctuary in Libya and in Sirte in particular, that as well. We're on the way. And number two is try to coalesce the political forces underneath the umbrella of the GNA. And anyone who comes under the umbrella of the GNA we can provide enabling support for with the authorization of Prime Minister (Fayez al-) Sarraj. So we have some ways to go - a very complex situation - but I do think that it's moving in the right direction from six months ago." MCGURK LEAVES NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 21st November 2016 21:34
- Keywords: McGurk Libya Sirte Islamic State coalition
- Location: AMMAN, JORDAN
- City: AMMAN, JORDAN
- Country: Jordan
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Insurgencies
- Reuters ID: LVA00157B4HFR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Islamic State's territory in the Libyan port city of Sirte has been reduced to an area the size of a "soccer field", according to the United States' envoy to the coalition against the jihadists.
Libyan forces are in the final stages of a six-month campaign to recapture Sirte from Islamic State. The city was the group's last stronghold in that country.
The forces, composed of fighters mainly from Misrata, say they are exercising caution to limit casualties to civilians who may still be trapped with Islamic State fighters.
"(Islamic State is) suicidal. There's snipers and if you want to hold on to a little teeny patch of land you can do that. We do not use the same tactics as the Syrian regime or Russians and simply carpet bomb part of the city that there's some Daesh in," Brett McGurk told reporters at the U.S. embassy in Jordan on Sunday (November 6).
"They're fighting until the death and they will all get their wish," he added.
Islamic State took full control of Sirte, a city of some 80,000 inhabitants, in early 2015. Its loss would leave the jihadist group without any territorial control in Libya.
The Libyan forces have the remaining militants in Sirte surrounded in part of the Ghiza Bahriya neighbourhood.
On Saturday (November 5), Reuters reporters witnessed heavy tank and howitzer fire against militant positions resulting in small gains.
The forces fighting Islamic State in Sirte are aligned with a U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, though strategic decisions are taken by commanders in the field and in Misrata. Since August 1, they have been assisted by more than 360 U.S. air strikes.
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