The US bombed two Islamic State camps 28 miles southwest of Sirte, Libya last night. The camps were located in a remote desert location, but were part of the jihadists’ plan to mount a comeback in the more populated areas of Libya. The Islamic State lost control of Sirte late last year.
Mahmud Al Isawi was killed as the US-led coalition has stepped up its efforts to help drive the Islamic State from its Syrian capital. The Pentagon said that 16 “significant members” of the organization’s external operations network have been killed in 2016.
The State Department has designated Ibrahim al Banna as a terrorist. Al Banna has served as an al Qaeda official in Yemen since the 1990s. He originally joined the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) and has been one of Ayman al Zawahiri’s loyalists for decades.
The US military has targeted senior and mid-level Islamic State leaders, external operations planners, and military commanders while also striking the group’s military and civilian infrastructure throughout Iraq and Syria in an effort to deny it territory and deal it a “lasting defeat.”
The Islamic State claims to have carried out 1,112 suicide attacks in Iraq and Syria during 2016. Additional suicide bombers were deployed in Libya and elsewhere. If the group’s claims are accurate, then the so-called caliphate has been using “martyrs” at a historically high rate.
For the time being, Raqqah has become the most significant target in the air campaign in Iraq and Syria. Coalition forces have launched 52 strikes near the Syrian city over the past 5 days, compared to 23 in Mosul.
The announcement is part of a US military effort to stay ahead of criticism from media and international non-governmental organizations for striking jihadists as they use protected sites to attack allied forces.
CJTFOIR has launched 76 strikes in and around Raqqah since Dec. 20. For comparison, the US launched 23 airstrikes against the Islamic State in and around Mosul during the same time period.