US bombs IS targets in Libya after call for help

US planes bombed Islamic State targets in Libya yesterday, responding to the UN-backed government’s request to help push the militants from their former stronghold in the city of Sirte.

“The first air strikes were carried out at specific locations in Sirte today causing severe losses to enemy ranks,” Prime Minster Fayez Seraj said on state TV.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the strikes did not have “an end point at this particular moment in time”.

Forces allied with Seraj have been battling Islamic State in Sirte, the home town of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, since May.

The group seized the city last year, making it its most important base outside Syria and Iraq, but its militants are now besieged in a few square kilometers of the centre.

The last acknowledged US air strikes in Libya were on an Islamic State training camp in the western city of Sabratha in February.

Seraj said: “I want to assure you that these operations are limited to a specific timetable and do not exceed Sirte and its suburbs,” he said, adding that international support on the ground would be limited to technical and logistical help.

Mr Cook said: “Additional US strikes will continue to target ISIL in Sirte in order to enable the GNA (Libyan government) to make a decisive, strategic advance.”


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