First Published: 2017-09-25

US air strikes kill 17 Islamic State militants in Libya
US military has carried first air strikes in Libya since US President took office.
Middle East Online

By Idrees Ali - WASHINGTON

Six US air strikes on an Islamic State desert camp in Libya killed 17 militants and destroyed three vehicles, the US military said on Sunday, the first US strikes in Libya since President Donald Trump took office.

US Africa Command said in a statement that strikes on Friday targeted a camp 150 miles (240 km) southeast of Sirte, a city that was once the Islamic State stronghold in Libya. The camp was used to move fighters in and out of Libya, plot attacks and store weapons, the statement said.

"ISIS and al-Qaeda have taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Libya to establish sanctuaries for plotting, inspiring and directing terror attacks," the statement said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

The last known US strike in Libya was on Jan. 19, a day before Trump's inauguration, when more than 80 Islamic State militants, some of whom were believed to be plotting attacks in Europe, died in US air strikes on camps outside Sirte.

That strike was led by two B-2 bombers, which took off from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to carry out a 30-hour round-trip bombing run. They dropped about 100 precision-guided munitions on the camps.

Islamic State took over Sirte in early 2015, turning it into its most important base outside the Middle East and attracting large numbers of foreign fighters to the city. The group imposed its hardline rule on residents and extended its control along about 155 miles (250 km) of Libya's Mediterranean coastline.

But it struggled to keep a footing elsewhere in Libya and by last December was forced out of Sirte after a six-month campaign led by brigades from the western city of Misrata and backed by US air strikes.

Islamic State militants have shifted to desert valleys and inland hills southeast of Tripoli as they seek to exploit Libya's political divisions after their defeat in Sirte.

 

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali