Over 80 killed in Libya stealth strikes on Isis - US defence chief

Official says reports show dozens of militants killed, with over 100 munitions dropped

A B-2 stealth bomber photographed in California in 2014. This was the aircraft used to bomb Islamic State targets in Libya on Wednesday. File photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

A B-2 stealth bomber photographed in California in 2014. This was the aircraft used to bomb Islamic State targets in Libya on Wednesday. File photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

 

More than 80 Islamic State fighters were killed in US air strikes on Libya on Wednesday night, US defence secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday.

US B-2 stealth bombers were used to carry out the air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) camps outside of Sirte.

Mr Carter said: “We need to strike Isil everywhere they show up. And that’s particularly true in view of the fact that we know some of the Isil operatives in Libya were involved with plotting attacks,” he said, referring to the group by an alternative acronym.

A Pentagon spokesman said an initial assessment indicated the US military strikes destroyed two camps southwest of Sirte.

Two US defence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, earlier said the strikes were carried out 28 miles (45km) southwest of Sirte against two camps, in co-operation with Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord.

They said there were no women or children in the camps.

Precision guided munitions

One of the officials said initial reports showed dozens of militants were killed in the strikes, with more than 100 precision guided munitions dropped.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook, in a statement on Thursday, confirmed the US military conducted successful strikes.

“The Isil terrorists targeted included individuals who fled to the remote desert camps from Sirte in order to reorganise, and they posed a security threat to Libya, the region, and US national interests,” Mr Cook said.

Months-long battle

Libyan forces backed by US air strikes finished clearing the last Isis holdout in Sirte last month after a battle of nearly seven months for the militant group’s former North African stronghold.

The US carried out about 470 air strikes against Isis targets in Sirte during that campaign.

The loss of Sirte was a major blow for Isis, leaving the group without any territory in Libya, although it retains an active presence in parts of the vast country.

The jihadist group had taken over Sirte in early 2015, turning it into its most important base outside the Middle East and attracting large numbers of foreign fighters into the city.

It imposed its ultra-hardline rule on residents, and extended its control along about 250km (155 miles) of Libya’s Mediterranean coastline.

Since Muammar Gadafy was overthrown in 2011 by rebel forces backed by Nato air strikes, Libya has slipped deeper into chaos.

Reuters