Libyan security forces have recaptured a key military base from Islamic State, the government said Saturday, with an assault on the group’s last stronghold in the country, the western city of Sirte.
The attack comes just hours after a military alliance announced it would begin a major operation to retake Sirte, which is now under control of the extremist group.
Libya’s government said in a statement that an assault to retake the city of Al-Makri, which it calls the “capital” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was complete.
A large part of the city, home to the country’s oil infrastructure, was seized earlier this month, and the United Nations said it has confirmed the death of a top ISIS leader in the city.
ISIS fighters fled the city after the army and allied militias launched an offensive, leading to a battle in which thousands of people were killed and thousands more fled across the border into Turkey.
The country’s internationally recognized government said on Saturday that the operation to reclaim Sirte would start Monday.
The announcement came as the international community is on edge following the loss of thousands of lives and tens of thousands more displaced from Sirte to the Mediterranean Sea, where thousands of migrants are stranded.
The United Nations has said it will send humanitarian teams to help the migrants.
The government said Friday it was ready to accept the international humanitarian aid needed to save people trapped in Sirte and to provide them with the necessary food, shelter, medical treatment and education.