Soldiers from a force aligned with Libya's new unity government walk along a road during an advance on the eastern and southern outskirts of the Islamic State stronghold of Sirte, in this still image taken from video on June 9, 2016. via Reuters TV
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Daesh (ISIS) militants were retreating Thursday from their main bastion in Libya, as militiamen allied to a U.N.-brokered government pushed into the central city of Sirte, officials said.The extremist group dispatched suicide bombers against the militiamen, who lost dozens of fighters last month.Wednesday the militias pushed deeper into Sirte, which lies in the central part of Libya's Mediterranean coastline. This could signal either a tactical retreat or a reflection of the small size of Daesh fighters remaining inside the city – after Western officials have earlier estimated Daesh strength in Sirte to be over 5,000 men.According to Ziad Hadia, who represents Sirte in the parliament based in eastern Libya, more than 2,000 Daesh fighters are thought to remain in the city.The Western-backed unity government, in the absence of an organized and unified army, has depended on the Misrata militias, among the country's most powerful.Another force that answers to army leader Khalifa Haftar, based in the country's east, has announced that it has deployed fighters south of Sirte.Hadiya said the assault on Sirte has cost the Misrata militiamen the lives of 130 fighters and that about 400 have been wounded.
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