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Battle of Misrata (HL)

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The Battle of Misrata, lasting from 10 February 2015 to 22 February 2015, was the first major battle of the second civil war in Libya. It took place in Misrata, a major port city near Tripoli, in the northwest of the country.

The battle

The GNC grouped a significant force, some 10,000 militants, in the district capital, Misrata. The National Army sent 7,000 regular soldiers and some 2,500 pro-government militiamen. An advance into the city began on 10 February, and much of the outskirts were captured quickly as the Islamist defense so were more focused on the inner parts of the city and the coast line. The parliament wished the battle to be a good victory, as it was the site of a battle during the 2011 Libyan civil war, which was intense and had been dubbed "Libya's Stalingrad". The army captured the airport, and the El Sharaka and Al Ghiran neighborhoods with minor resistance. Many rebels simply retreated further inside the city than engage the army there. Some 50 militants were killed during the initial advance into the city with the army taking around 20 casualties. By 13 February, the Libyan ground forces advanced into Al Zawabi, where a significant number of Islamist militants was located. An intense firefight ensued, and the army broke through after armored columns of T-72 tanks arrived. On 15 February, the neighborhood fell under full government control. The southern neighborhood of Karzaz fell to the army with little resistance on 16 February.

In Tripoli, corvettes of the Libyan navy left port on 14 February and arrived at the coast of Misrata the next day, bombarding the Islamist positions near the coast line. Several hundred "marines" landed on the coast the next day, capturing Dzera and several other neighborhoods after intense fighting. The Islamist force in the western half of the city grouped in the city center, consisting of many non-Libyan jihadists from other parts of North Africa and the Middle East. The army and the marine troops began attacking the city center on 17 February, and at the same time, the army's 25th Brigade advanced from the south into the eastern half of the city, taking the factory districts near the seaport. The pro-GNC forces did not expect the move, and retreated into the seaport area, holding the line there. In the city center, the fighting went on building by building. Finally, after a gunfight lasting until 19 February, it was announced that the city center had fallen. Among the dead were some 3,000 militants and 1,200 soldiers. The army had full control of the western city, and began advancing on the rebel holdouts in the eastern half, converging on the city's seaport.

On 20 February, the ground forces took control of Al Sawati, a neighborhood above the seaport area. The Libyan Navy began bombarding the Islamist buildings from the sea after certain buildings held by the rebel forces were identified by aircraft and the information passed to the naval commander. After the bombardments, the army advanced, from north and south, capturing much of the seaport over the course of several hours. The commander of the Islamist forces in the city declared that they would fight to the death, on 22 February. The Libyan ground troops surrounded and destroyed his command center mere hours later. The battle was officially over after that, but several more hours were spent preforming mop-up operations in the city. After news of the victory came, the Libyan and international press highly publicized it, claiming that the battle was the first major battle of the war. Military analysts commented that the coordination of the Libyan ground, naval, and air forces was key to the victory.

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