Months after the fight over the Libyan city of Sirte was declared “almost over,” the Libyan unity government today finally managed to claim outright victory, as ISIS had held out in a handful of buildings near the coast for months, launching counter-attacks. Even then, the “victory” isn’t close to what it was initially advertised to be.
The ISIS forces finally abandoned those last buildings as US airstrikes began hitting them, and despite the unity government presenting ISIS as “trapped” in the neighborhood months ago, the ISIS fighters managed to flee to an unknown destination.
While this ultimately gives the government, one of many would-be Libyan governments, control over the last of Sirte, it doesn’t mean that ISIS’ Libya faction has been wiped out, and indeed it isn’t even clear how much of ISIS’ force in the country was really lost, and how many just left to set up shop elsewhere.
That probably won’t be a big challenge for ISIS, either, as Libya is heavily divided and more than a few cities and towns around the country are outside of the control of any of the would-be governments, meaning ISIS can basically pick one and make that their new capital.