March 20, 2019

US launches air strikes on IS in Libya

Government forces say they have made gains in Sirte | Reuters

The US military has begun bombing targets around the Libyan city of Sirte, which is controlled by militias associated with Islamic State. The embattled official government said the intervention was made at its request and caused ‘major casualties’.

“The presidency council, as the general army commander, has made a request for direct US support to carry out specific airstrikes,” Fayez Serraj, the head of the Libyan presidency council said in a televised statement, broadcast on Monday afternoon. “The first strikes started today in positions in Sirte, causing major casualties.”

Serraj added that there would not be a foreign-led operation on the ground, though US officials told local media sources that the US is preparing to take a greater role in the war-torn country, and said that the Pentagon was preparing for a long-term campaign.

The Military Times also reported that this is expected to become a multi-day operations, according to their Pentagon sources.

The bombings were personally authorized by US President Barack Obama, following consultation with Defense Secretary Ash Carter and senior military commanders.

Pentagon spokesperson Michelle Baldanza said the strikes were“consistent with our approach to combating ISIL by working with capable and motivated local forces.”

Baldanza said the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), the official ruling body of Libya, which has been endorsed by the UN, but controls only parts of the country, and not the capital Tripoli, has a chance of re-taking control.

“GNA-aligned forces have had success in recapturing territory from ISIL thus far around Sirte, and additional U.S. strikes will continue to target ISIL in Sirte in order to enable the GNA to make a decisive, strategic advance,” said Baldanza.

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