The new Government of National Unity by fighters have been advancing on the group’s Mediterranean costal ground.
Cutting of beards and long hair to blend in with civilians as militias advance on the city , ISIS fighters fleeing their Libyan stronghold of Sirte.
ISIS fighters fleeing their Libyan stronghold of Sirte are reportedly cutting of their beards and long hair to blend in with civilians as militias advance on the city.
Forces allied to the country’s new unity government pushed into the city in tanks and pickup trucks mounted with machine guns on Thursday, backed by air strikes and bombardment from ships in the Mediterranean.
A Libyan naval commander, Rida Issa, said the entire coastline around the city was under tight control, leaving up to 1,800 Isis fighters unable to escape by sea.
With Sirte mostly surrounded, there were reports that some militants were attempting to blend in with displaced civilians by ditching their distinctive clothing and facial hair.
Troops clearing a school taken as Isis retreated found sinks full of hair, The Times, reported, as well as mobile phones and leaflets pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In a statement, the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNA) said its forces were in control of a military barracks, roads and bridges leaving into Sirte, where specialists were clearing mines and booby-trapped vehicles.
Dozens of fighters have been killed and hundreds wounded in a month of fighting in surrounding the symbolic city, which was the hometown of deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi and the scene of his death in the last major battle of the Libyan civil war.
Isis took advantage of the ensuing chaos to expand into the country, seizing Sirte and 155 miles of surrounding coastline in late 2014 to construct its biggest stronghold outside Syria and Iraq.
Civilians trapped by the terrorist group have reported”unbearable”atrocities including regular public executions and corpses left hanging or “crucified” in the streets.
Brigades mainly composed of fighters from the western city of Misrata have advanced rapidly, driving the militants back along the coastal road west of Sirte before seizing strategic points on the edge of the city.
A separate militia that controls terminals in Libya's oil crescent, the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), said it had advanced further from the east to reach the town of Harawa, about 40 miles away.
Fighting was underway at symbolic locations including the Ouagadougou conference complex, where Isis holds compulsory Sharia instruction seminars, and a roundabout where militants previously hung the bodies of executed enemies had been seized.
Mohamed al-Gasri, a military spokesperson based in Misrata, told Reuters: “We think that Sirte will be liberated within days, not weeks.