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US carries out airstrike against ISIS fighters in Libya, Africa Command says

U.S. forces carried out an airstrike against Islamic State fighters in southwest Libya, Africa Command said on Friday.

AFRICOM said it carried out the strike targeting ISIS fighters around Murzuq in southwest Libya on Thursday, September 19. Early assessments were that eight fighters were killed and no civilians were killed or injured, the command said.

The strike was coordinated with the Libyan Government of National Accord, the U.N.-recognized government on the divided country.

“U.S. Africa Command conducted this airstrike to eliminate terrorist leaders and fighters and to disrupt terrorist activity,” AFRICOM commander General Stephen Townsend said. “We will not allow them to use the current conflict in Libya as protection. Together with our Libyan partners, we will continue to deny terrorists safe haven in Libya.”

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.

The last strike was in August 2018, an AFRICOM spokesperson told The Defense Post on Friday.

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 GNA.

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.

Al-Fuqaha attack highlights Islamic State’s growing confidence in Libya

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