RT EXCLUSIVE: Crew dodges ISIS suicide car bomb attack on Libyan battlefield (DRAMATIC VIDEO)
New intense battle footage from Libya shows an RT crew caught in the midst of heavy fighting between government forces and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants as the journalists venture to report, risking their lives from the frontline in Sirte.
After a vehicle with RT’s William Whiteman drove past an intersection in one of Sirte’s contested neighborhoods where sounds of gunfire are heard erupting every few seconds, the journalists managed to cheat death in an attempted suicide attack. An armored car rigged with explosives rapidly approaching their positions was spotted by the government fighters.
Before the terrorist was able to trigger a powerful blast, he was annihilated by a RPG fired by one of the government fighters. The remnants of the car engulfed by flames could be seen through a smashed shutter.
“So here you can see the car bomb. This is the car bomb that went off outside. That’s what all the shooting was for. They were trying to stop it,” Whiteman said from a shelter, where he took cover when the shooting started.
The fighting, however, resumed immediately, as a mortar round hit the spot where the journalists were standing earlier. With constant blasts continuing to shake the surroundings, a window frame fell to the ground, hitting several soldiers.
“Here, we are Islam. These people [IS] are terrorists. They are killing people,” one of the fighters told Whiteman as the fierce fighting raged on.
Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli aided by US airstrikes has been attempting to drive the jihadists out of their former stronghold in the country since May. The US launched its air campaign in and around Sirte at the request of the Libyan government on August 1 and have since made over 100 sorties. Initially, the operation was set to end on August 30, but it was subsequently prolonged further into September.
Islamic State took control of Sirte in June 2015 amidst the instability that has plagued the country in the years following the brutal overthrow of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.
The government-backed brigades, who mostly hail from the city of Misrata, some 230 km from Sirte, where one of the command centers is located, are bracing themselves for the latest efforts to retake the coastal city.
Last week, the Pentagon claimed that the jihadists retain control over only three neighborhoods in Sirte, with the number of militants now estimated to be no more than 200.
“They’re literally with their backs against the ocean at this point,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said last Thursday.