More than 80 ISIS militants killed in US strikes in Libya
US B-2 bombers carried out air strikes against ISIS camps outside of Sirte, Libya
More than 80 ISIS militants were killed in US strikes on training camps in Libya, including several who were involved in plotting attacks in Europe, Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said Thursday.
“They certainly are people who were actively plotting operations in Europe and may also have been connected to some attacks that have already occurred in Europe,” Carter said on his last day in office.
The strike late Wednesday came a month after the United States officially wrapped up military operations in and around Sirte, where it had conducted nearly 500 strikes to help the Libyan unity government expel extremists from the coastal city.
The fighters “were seen immediately beforehand carrying weapons, wearing tactical vests, carrying mortars and standing in formation,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He added that no civilians were thought to have been killed and no women or children were present.
The camps were about 45 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of Sirte.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said those targeted included ISIS fighters who had previously fled Sirte.
“They posed a security threat to Libya, the region and US national interests,” Cook said in a statement, noting that the strikes appeared to have been “successful.”
The Pentagon had launched Operation Odyssey Lightning to help local forces push ISIS from Sirte on August 1.
When operations concluded last month, following the city’s “liberation,” the Pentagon left open the possibility of conducting additional anti-ISIS attacks if Libya’s Government of National Accord asked for help in doing so.
Wednesday’s strike was conducted with the “cooperation” of the GNA, the defense official said, noting that the move had been authorized by outgoing President Barack Obama.
B-2 stealth bombers, which have a distinctive flying-wing design, conducted the strike with the help of armed drones.
The fall of Sirte -- former leader Muammar Qaddafi’s hometown located 450 kilometers east of Tripoli -- was a major setback for ISIS, which has also faced military defeats in Syria and Iraq.