US Launched Airstrikes Targeting Islamic State In Libya

The U.S. has begun airstrikes targeting Islamic State in the coastal city of Sirte in Libya, as reported Associated Press. Pentagon’s Press Secretary Peter Cook in a televised statement said that the President Barack Obama had authorized these manned and unmanned airstrikes targeting Islamic State on the recommendation of the Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the U.N.-brokered presidency council, stated that Government of National Accord has decided to join the coalition against Islamic State and thereby requested the U.S. to carry out precision air strikes targeting Daesh (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

“I want to assure you that these operations are limited to a specific timetable and do not exceed Sirte and its suburbs.”

While the airstrikes against Islamic State were carried out, no ground forces were deployed. According to Military Times, Peter Cook said in a statement,”With regard to this particular operation in Sirte, we do not expect U.S. [ground] forces to be part of this specific operation.”

Today, the airstrikes targeted the precise location of ISIL tank and two other vehicles that has reportedly caused severe loss to the IS militia.

Back in April, Obama had referred to Libya as his worst mistake because he failed to plan a strategy following the death of Muammar Gaddafi, reported BBC.

After Gaddafi’s death, the lack of power and security had opened up the ground for local militias to employ control in select regions. Also, that gave a chance to ISIL insurgents to infiltrate the North African country and gain control over the coastline.

The ISIL’s presence in Libya is considered most developed and dangerous, especially considering its close proximity to Europe and after its stronghold in Syria and Iraq, reported CNN. Earlier this year, the Libyan and U.S. officials estimated about 4,000 to 6,000 IS insurgents trying to set up cells in Libya.

That number fell last month after Islamic State lost the port of Sirte and the base in the center of the city after the fight with GNA, reported the Inquisitr. Only a few hundred militants were estimated to be inside Sirte. Because of these IS insurgents, over 80,000 residents of Sirte had evacuated the city.

After losing port of Sirte, the Libyan and U.S. officials had the concerns about ISIL infiltrating other regions of Libya to establish its presence.

The U.S. had conducted airstrikes targeting IS training camp in the Sabratha, Libya back in February, according to The Guardian.

A few foreign powers have offered support to the GNA’s decision in joining the coalition against IS and also revive the oil production in Libya. Serraj pointed out that any foreign intervention in the campaign could be politically sensitive. Only after a formal requisition of help due coordination would be expected.

According to Al Jazeera, Mousa Alkouni, the deputy of Presidency Council of Libya, inked a deal with the armed forces, who have the control over two major ports, to resume exports and remove the blockade. The two major oil ports, Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, have ceased operations and exports since 2014.

It is said that GNA took this stand of not accepting any foreign help right now since a number of French commandos were killed last month while carrying out intelligence operations against ISIL militants, reported NY Times. In the fight against the IS insurgents, the GNA forces have been getting support from the special operation forces and troops belonging to U.S., France, England and Italy.

The airstrikes on the Islamic controlled parts in Libya seemed to be necessary especially after the armed militia was struggling to drive out IS fighters. The pro-GNA militia originating from Misrata waged a war against IS since May to recapture Sirte, reports Reuters. Meanwhile, the new government in Tripoli was not able to provide immediate support.

“It’s slow progress because of the land mines, booby traps and snipers,” said a fighter Mohamed Faraj Zourab. So far, over 350 fighters have died and over 1,500 have been wounded in this campaign which is now stalled.

The U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State targets is a part of its on-going coalition against the foreign jihadist militants in the North African region and Europe.

[Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]