As Allied forces moved inland, after securing beaches and small ports in southeast Sicily, one of their main objectives was to secure existing airfields, and build temporary ones to reduce response times for Allied aircraft, which had previously been flying mainly from Malta. Soon after the landings the Axis forces gradually retreated from the western side of the island to consolidate a tighter defensive line along the northern section. The Allies focussed on pushing north to sever the main east–west transport link, which the Italians and Germans were using to move units around. Once it became clear to the Axis command that their position was untenable, an ordered evacuation was planned. Starting on 11 August they began a quick retreat towards the crossing points to the mainland, stalling the Allied advance by destroying roads and laying mines. The Allies attempted a second series of largely unsuccessful amphibious landings in an attempt to cut off the retreat.
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