The United States military carried out airstrikes targeting the ISIS militia in Libya on Fri, Sept. 24, making it the first time such airstrikes in the Northern African country since President Donald Trump took office in January.
The attacks that Trump ordered targeted a camp located about 150 miles southeast of Sirte, a city that ISIS is still holding. “The camp was used by ISIS to move fighters in and out of the country, stockpile weapons and equipment, and to plot and conduct attacks,” the U.S. military said in a statement.
According to a press statement by the U.S. Africa Command which supervises the U.S. troops in the region, “In coordination with Libya’s Government of National Accord and aligned forces, U.S. forces conducted six precision airstrikes in Libya against an ISIS desert camp on Friday.”
Conducted by a remote controlled aircraft, the airstrike killed 16 ISIS militants and also destroyed three vehicles at the camp. Trump had approved of the strikes, signing it in the previous week prior to the attacks. However, the airstrike was not announced until Sun, Sept. 24.
Following the Libyan Civil War and the resulting instability that has occurred in the country, ISIS has seized the advantage, reconstructing themselves in small groups. The presence of the militia group in the country had reduced owing to the campaigns that the U.S military had carried out for five months in the final stretch of the Obama era.
“The United States will track and hunt these terrorists, degrade their capabilities and disrupt their planning and operations by all appropriate, lawful, and proportional means, including precision strikes,” Africa Command’s later statement added.
ISIS seized Sirte in 2015, and has been using the coastal area for training and planning their operations. The area had been eyed as a potential area for the militia. The city was recaptured from ISIS in December 2016 following a series of airstrikes that the local militia conducted in collaboration with the legally mandated Government of National Accord and over 500 U.S airstrikes.
The airstrikes came just a day after the United Nations rolled out a new plan to restore political stability in Libya in a bid to reconcile the conflicting Government of National Accord, headed by Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj, and the Libyan National army, which is headed by Khalifa Haftar.
While the two Libyan sides differ on the country’s leadership, General Thomas Waldhauser, the head of the U.S. Africa Command said at the Institute of Peace in September that “They don’t want ISIS there, they agree on that.”
Regarding ISIS, Trump told reporters at a White House press conference “I do see a role in getting rid of ISIS. We’re being very effective in that regard.”