Libyan forces battling to oust Islamic State from Sirte on Wednesday captured a large convention hall complex in the city center, seizing a symbolic base where militants once held meetings and flew their black jihadist flag.
Securing the Ouagadougou Conference Centre as well as hospital and university buildings would mark the biggest advance made by Libyan forces in weeks. The United States 10 days ago began air strikes on Sirte, which fighters say hastened their progress.
An odd feature of the war with ISIL has been that the capture of a city center really seems to mark change of control, rather than just being one victory in an effort to clear a city block by block of defenders. Why this is I don't know. Although perhaps its just an artifact of reporting.
So while the battle for clearing out Sirte isn't over, I think we can say ISIL lost control of the city--unless they can manage a counter-attack.
We've had a role in this progress:
U.S. Special Operations forces are providing direct, on-the-ground support for the first time to fighters battling the Islamic State in Libya, U.S. and Libyan officials said, coordinating American airstrikes and providing intelligence information in an effort to oust the group from a militant stronghold.
The positioning of a small number of elite U.S. personnel, operating alongside British troops, in the coastal city of Sirte deepens the involvement of Western nations against the Islamic State’s most powerful affiliate.
If information and air strikes are enough to enable local allies to defeat common enemies, that's great.
Just remember that this isn't always possible. Sometimes we have to risk more to defeat enemies when our allies aren't good enough to carry the burden.
I still think the French should have taken the lead on this front.