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U.S.-backed Libyan militias take over ISIS headquarters in Sirte

Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government fire weapons during a battle with ISIS fighters in Sirte, Libya, July 21, 2016.

Goran Tomasevic/REUTERS

Last Updated Aug 10, 2016 1:46 PM EDT

CAIRO -- U.S.-backed Libyan militias say they have taken over the headquarters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Sirte, the militants' final bastion in Libya.

The fighters said on Wednesday that they had seized control of the sprawling convention center that was used as ISIS' headquarters in the coastal city. The militia fighters, who are mainly from the nearby city of Misrata, launched their offensive against ISIS in June.

A statement on the forces' Facebook page declares that "Sirte is returning to Libya."

U.S. warplanes have launched a series of airstrikes targeting ISIS positions in the city. The air support came in response to a request for assistance from Libya's U.N.-brokered government after battles in Sirte stalled.

Also Wednesday, the Pentagon said "a small number of U.S. forces" has gone into and out of Libya to coordinate the strikes, CBS Radio News correspondent Cami McCormick reports.

Pentagon spokesman Gordon Trowbridge didn't provide an exact number for the group, McCormick reports.

The service members weren't on the front lines or on the ground in Sirte, Trowbridge said. Instead, the service members exchanged information with local fighters in "established joint operations centers," he said.

Trowbridge said the group would continue going back into Libya.

The militants seized control of Sirte, the hometown of Libya's former dictator Muammar Qaddafi, in 2015.