US air campaign in Libya moves south

The United States conducted two strikes against the Islamic State in central Libya, its southernmost strikes to date in the Libyan air campaign. On Nov. 17 and 19, US forces conducted a strike against Islamic State militants in Fuqaha, approximately 500 km south of Sirte. A press release issued by US Africa Command (AFRICOM) did not specify casualties.

The rate of US strikes against the Islamic State in Libya has slowed significantly since the self-styled caliphate lost control of Sirte. The last strikes occurred at the end of September, breaking an eight month hiatus. In January, the US targeted the Islamic State’s “external plotters” at two camps 28 miles southwest of Sirte. 

Between Aug. 1 and Dec. 19, 2016, AFRICOM conducted 495 precision airstrikes as part of Operation Odyssey Lightning, a US air operation which enabled Libyan Government of National Accord forces to recapture Sirte. The strikes targeted Islamic State fighting positions, command and control centers, and weapons in the port city. The strikes killed between 800 and 900 militants.

 

 

Alexandra Gutowski is a military affairs analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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