US military ends anti-ISIS operation in Libya’s Sirte

Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government fire a 122 MM artillery towards ISIS fighters positions in Sirte, Libya, July 24, 2016. (Reuters)

The US military has officially ended operations in a former ISIS bastion in Libya, officials announced Tuesday.

The Pentagon had launched Operation Odyssey Lightning to help local forces push the militants from the coastal city of Sirte on August 1.

"In partnership with the Libyan Government of National Accord, the operation succeeded in its core objective of enabling GNA-aligned forces to drive Daesh (ISIS) out of Sirte," the US military's Africa Command said in a statement.

US drones, gunships and warplanes had hammered ISIS positions, conducting a total of 495 strikes.

A fighter of Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government waving a Libyan flag flashes victory sign as he stands atop the ruins of a house after forces finished clearing Ghiza Bahriya, the final district of the former ISIS stronghold of Sirte, Libya. (Reuters)

A fighter of Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government waving a Libyan flag flashes victory sign as he stands atop the ruins of a house after forces finished clearing Ghiza Bahriya, the final district of the former ISIS stronghold of Sirte, Libya. (Reuters)

"We are proud to have supported this campaign to eliminate ISIL's hold over the only city it has controlled outside Iraq and Syria," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook told reporters, using an alternative ISIS acronym.

Officials said the United States would continue to strike ISIS militants if the Libyan unity government asked for help in doing so.

Unity government leader Fayez al-Sarraj on Saturday announced that military operations in Sirte were done, but IS still has fighters in Libya and on Sunday conducted a suicide attack in Benghazi.

Smoke rises from a ruined house after it was hit by an air strike as fighters from Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government advance into the last area controlled by Islamic State, in Sirte, Libya, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Smoke rises from a ruined house after it was hit by an air strike as fighters from Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government advance into the last area controlled by Islamic State, in Sirte, Libya, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The fall of Sirte -- Qaddafi's home town located 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of Tripoli -- is a major setback for ISIS, which has also faced military defeats in Syria and Iraq.

Libya descended into chaos following the NATO-backed ousting of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with rival administrations emerging and well-armed militias vying for control of its vast oil wealth.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:59 - GMT 10:59
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