BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — The prime minister of Libya's U.N.-backed government said in comments published Sunday that "total victory" against the Islamic State group in its main Libyan stronghold is near, as forces close in on the coastal city of Sirte.
Fayez al-Serraj told France's the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that his government needed international intelligence and technical assistance, but "not airstrikes."
The comments came a day after a spokesman for forces allied with his government said they captured a military base about 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Sirte.
The spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Gosry, said "we are officially in Sirte and only days away from controlling the center of the city."
"This total victory against IS in Sirte is near. We will be able to also take control of all these zones it has occupied. We also hope that this war against terrorism can unite Libya. But it will be long. And the international community knows it," al-Serraj told the French newspaper.
According to Ziad Hadia, the Sirte representative in the parliament based in eastern Libya, more than 2,000 IS fighters are thought to be based in the city. Foreign fighters, mostly from Tunisia and sub-Saharan Africans, account for more than 85 percent of the fighters, he added.