Politics

US strikes ISIS targets in Libya for a second time in less than a week

Strikes carried out by unmanned aircraft

(CNN) - The US military conducted airstrikes against ISIS fighters in Libya Tuesday, for a second time in less than a week and only the second time the US has struck targets in the North African country since Donald Trump became President.

"US forces conducted two precision airstrikes in Libya against ISIS militants," US Africa Command, which oversees US troops in the region, said in a statement issued Thursday.

Africa Command added that the strikes killed "several ISIS militants" and were carried out "in coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord," the internationally recognized government based in Tripoli.

The strike occurred approximately 100 miles southeast of Sirte, the one-time ISIS stronghold in Libya, according to Africa Command.

Tuesday's strikes were carried out by unmanned aircraft and killed fewer than 10 ISIS fighters, two US defense officials told CNN.

The operation follows a series of six precision airstrikes that were carried out against an ISIS desert camp on Friday. Those strikes killed 17 ISIS militants and destroyed three vehicles at the camp, located about 150 miles southeast of Sirte, Africa Command told CNN Sunday in a statement.

The two missions being carried out in such close proximity to one another suggests US officials have become increasingly concerned that the terror group is regaining strength in the North African country.

While the ISIS presence in Libya has been much reduced following a nearly five-month long US air campaign against the terror group in the final stretch of the Obama administration that ousted them from Sirte, small groups of ISIS fighters had begun to reconstitute themselves in remote desert areas, taking advantage of the lingering instability resulting from the Libyan civil war.

"ISIS and al-Qaeda have taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Libya to establish sanctuaries for plotting, inspiring and directing terror attacks; recruiting and facilitating the movement of foreign terrorist fighters; and raising and moving funds to support their operations," Africa Command said Thursday.


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