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Libyan Forces Surround ISIS in Former Stronghold

After a four-month campaign, Libyan forces have surrounded ISIS militants in Sirte, the group's former stronghold.

A fighter with Libyan forces affiliated with the U.N.-backed Tripoli government scans for targets from the minaret of a mosque retaken from ISIS control in Sirte, Libya, on Sept. 22.

Brigades from the western city of Misrata have surrounded militants in a gradually shrinking residential area in central Sirte. The Libyan forces have been supported since Aug. 1 by U.S. airstrikes. 

Manu Brabo / AP

A fighter uses a dummy to gain the attention of ISIS snipers at the frontline in Sirte on Sept. 22.

After advancing rapidly on Sirte in May, the Libyan forces have suffered high numbers of casualties from sniper fire, suicide bombings and improvised explosive devices. More than 500 have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded.

FABIO BUCCIARELLI / AFP - Getty Images

Fighters rest near a destroyed building during a battle against ISIS militants at the frontline in Sirte on Sept. 22.

The forces are supported by a U.N.-backed government in Tripoli but complain that it has been slow to provide help. Fighters are mostly using outdated weapons and ammunition and lack armored vehicles and protective clothing.

FABIO BUCCIARELLI / AFP - Getty Images

A fighter scans for targets during an attack to retake the last district from ISIS control in Sirte on Sept. 22.

ISIS expanded into Libya in 2014, taking advantage of the political chaos and security vacuum that developed after Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in an uprising five years ago.

Manu Brabo / AP

A sniper shoots toward ISIS positions in Sirte on Sept. 21.

The jihadist group took full control of Sirte last year, setting up an important base for foreign fighters and expanding its control along 155 miles of Libya's Mediterranean coastline.

FABIO BUCCIARELLI / AFP - Getty Images

Smoke rises from a destroyed neighborhood in Sirte on Sept. 22.

FABIO BUCCIARELLI / AFP - Getty Images

A fighter fires his weapon during fighting against ISIS forces on Sept. 22.

FABIO BUCCIARELLI / AFP - Getty Images

Abdul, 22, and Muftah, 19, rest at their unit's headquarters on the outskirts of Sirte on Sept. 21.

Manu Brabo / AP

Members of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government ride their tanks during a battle with ISIS militants in Sirte on Sept. 6.

HANI AMARA / Reuters