Libya conflict: Rebel forces ‘seize strategic city Sirte’

Rebel forces in Libya say they have taken control of the coastal city of Sirte, in what would be a key strategic gain.

Sirte has been controlled by forces aligned with Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) since Islamic State (IS) militants were expelled in 2016.

The rebel forces, loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar, have been waging an offensive targeting the capital Tripoli.

The GNA has not yet commented.

A resident of the northern city of Sirte, located on the Mediterranean coast, told Reuters news agency they could see convoys of troops belonging to Gen Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).

“They control large parts of the city now. We also hear gunfire,” the unnamed resident added.

The reports came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his country’s troops had begun moving into Libya to support the GNA in Tripoli.

The UN-backed government is supported by Turkey and its ally Qatar, while Gen Haftar is backed by Egypt and the UAE.