United States launch air strikes against Islamic State in Libya

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

On Monday warplanes from the United States (US) launched strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions in Sirte, Libya.

Flag of Libya

The strikes were requested by the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) as they try to remove ISIL from the city. The militant group have held the city since last year, amidst the divisions in Libya following Muammar Gaddafi's removal as leader in 2011.

Libyan planes have previously bombed Sirte, but lack the capability to launch precision strikes. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said these were the targets which had been targeted by the US strikes.

Forces loyal to the GNA have been engaged with ISIL in Sirte since May; in mid-July the government claimed the compaign had made its greatest gains yet. These forces are reportedly mostly comprised of militia from Misrata.

This is the first time the US has coordinated strikes with the GNA, although they have previously conducted strikes against ISIL targets in Libya. The last targeted an ISIL training camp in February.

Western officials had estimated there were as many as 6,000 ISIL fighters in Libya some months ago. Mr Cook stated there are now less than 1,000.

US officials have said the air campaign is ongoing.


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