Libya's UN-backed government forces said on Saturday (3 September) that they had made gains in Islamic State's (Isis) last holdouts in Sirte as fighting started after many days of calm. "The fighting has begun. We are attacking the last Daesh positions in district three," Libyan government military personnel was quoted as saying.

The forces have faced severe resistance from the Sunni extremist group in the centre of the city, where they have defended themselves with car bombs, snipers and mines.

The pro-government forces added that they seized many buildings between Sirte's number one and number three neighbourhoods and destroyed an IS (Daesh) car bomb before it could hit a target, Reuters reported.

In fighting on Saturday, at least 10 pro-government members were killed and 60 were injured, medical sources in Misrata said. Misrata is a city located between Sirte and the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Government forces had launched the attacks in May to recapture the city and since August, the US has reportedly launched air strikes to help them in eliminating the militants. Last weekend they said that they were preparing to liberate the entire city of Sirte after they seized many Isis positions, including its headquarters. Since the fight began in May, at least 400 pro government members were killed while 2,500 have been injured.

The United States Africa command said on 2 September that since the US campaign began almost 108 strikes have been launched against Isis in Sirte via drones and helicopters. Pentagon Spokesperson Captain Jeff Davies said on Thursday that less than 200 Isis extremists remain in Sirte and they are now surrounded by pro government forces.

Libya Sirte offensive
Members of Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government fire a weapon towards Islamic State militants in neighbourhood Number One in central Sirte, Libya on 28 August REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny