[1/19/17] President Obama authorized “precision airstrikes in Libya last night,” destroying two ISIS camps near the city of Sirte, the Defense Department announced on Thursday morning.
“While we are still evaluating the results of the strikes, the initial assessment indicates they were successful,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement. “This action was authorized by the president as an extension of the successful operation the U.S. military conducted last year to support Libyan forces in freeing Sirte from ISIL control.”
On August 1, 2016, the U.S. military struck ISIS targets inside Sirte, trying to prevent them from establishing a stronghold outside of Syria and Iraq. And before that, the U.S. targeted ISIS leaders in Libya — once in November 2015 and then again in February 2016.
In the most recent attack, the U.S. targeted terrorists who fled from Sirte to remote desert camps “to reorganize, and they posed a security threat to Libya, the region, and U.S. national interests,” Cook said.
A short time later, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters, “Initial estimates indicate that the air strikes killed more than 80 ISIL fighters, many of whom had converged there after fleeing from local partner forces who had cleared Sirte last month, with our help.”
Carter said the strikes were directated aginst ISIS’ external plotters, “who were activelly planning operations aginst our allies in Europe.”
He also told reporters that as long as Libya’s civil war continues, “the Libyans don’t have unity. If they did, I think they themselves could make short work of ISIL. For now, under these conditions, our help is invaluable.”