US strikes ISIS in Libya for second time in a week

The U.S. carried out an airstrike targeting Islamic State affiliates near the town of Murzuq in southwest Libya on Tuesday, September 24, Africa Command said, the second such strike in the area in a week.

The airstrike was coordinated with the Libyan Government of National Accord, according to a Wednesday, September 25 AFRICOM statement.

AFRICOM initially assessed that 11 “terrorists” were killed and that no civilians were killed or injured.

“This airstrike was conducted to eliminate ISIS terrorists and deny them the ability to conduct attacks on the Libyan people,” said AFRICOM director of operations U.S. Army Major General William Gayler.

“U.S. Africa Command continues to support diplomatic efforts to stabilize the political situation in Libya and disrupt terrorist organizations that threaten regional stability,” the statement read.

Last week, U.S. aircraft struck suspected ISIS affiliates in Murzuq, marking the first U.S. airstrike in Libya since August 2018.

Although AFRICOM has carried out a number of strikes in Libya since 2016, it rarely targets Islamic State fighters. The command carried out only eight strikes against ISIS in Libya between when President Donald Trump took office in 2017 and March 2018, the New York Times reported last year.

Islamic State has been active in Libya since its formation in 2014, but it reorganized last year, and has targeted forces fighting for General Khalifa Haftar against the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord.

In October, Islamic State’s Libya affiliate claimed responsibility for a highly orchestrated attack in the town of al-Fuqaha, located in Jufra district in central Libya. According to the group, its fighters carried out an assault on the town and gained control over it for several hours.

Libya has been torn apart by intermittent civil war since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In April, General Khalifa Haftar ordered his self-styled Libyan National Army, which is affiliated with the Tobruk-based government in the east, to seize the western Libyan city of Tripoli, the GNA-controlled capital under Fayez al-Sarraj.

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