Sunday, July 03, 2016

ISIL Under Pressure in Libya

As the Islamic State (ISIL) is under pressure in Syria and especially Iraq, the ISIL fall-back position in Libya is under attack:

Sirte, 450 km (280 miles) east of Tripoli, became Islamic State's largest outpost beyond its Iraq and Syria territory. It was taken last year by militants who profited from Libya's war among rival factions to gain control of territory and impose their hardline vision on the city.

Losing Sirte would be a major setback for the group and a big blow to morale as it also struggles to hold ground in Iraq, where it has lost the city of Falluja and other territory to forces backed by U.S.-led air strikes.

Islamic State are being squeezed by a tightening ring of separate fronts around a 5-km central area where earthen berms crisscross roads, cutting off escape routes. Tanks and howitzers lob occasional shells into areas held by Islamic State.

Losing Sirte would be bad for ISIL. That's good for us.

But would the militias battling for ISIL be capable of pursuing ISIL forces throughout Libya, digging them out of urban cells or scattering them outside the cities to make them ineffective?

I just don't know how much we can count on the militias to really defeat ISIL when militia objectives have tended to be much more localized. Will any militias really take a spear for Team Libya to smash up ISIL?

Or will ISIL be able to retreat from Sirte and other coastal locations and rebuild in less valuable territory in the interior?

Still, one problem at a time, as I often say, eh? Depriving ISIL of their control in the central Libyan coastal area would be a victory for the good guys.