US military begins airstrikes against Daesh-stronghold Sirte
The US military conducted airstrikes in Libya on Monday to target the Daesh stronghold of Sirte, marking the first time the US has carried out such operations in the country.
Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of Libya’s unity government, announced the strikes in a televised speech.
The Pentagon press secretary, Peter Cook, also said in a statement, “At the request of the Libyan Government of National Accord, the United States military conducted precision airstrikes against ISIL targets in Sirte, Libya, to support GNA-affiliated forces seeking to defeat ISIL in its primary stronghold in Libya.”
Cook added that the US strikes in Sirte “will continue,” without elaborating.
Foreign forces, including from France, the US and Britain, are in Libya in a purported fight against the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group. In May, the US and the UK had both confirmed the presence of their troops in Libya.
However, Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) has denounced the presence of foreign troops as a “violation” of the country’s sovereignty.
Sirte, the major stronghold of Daesh outside Iraq and Syria, fell to the Takfiri terrorists in February 2015. The full recapture of the city would be a major boost to the unity government, which has come to office through support from the United Nations.
Daesh has been taking advantage of the chaos embroiling Libya since the NATO-backed overthrow and death of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The oil-rich North African country has had two rival governments since 2014, when politician Khalifa Ghweil and his self-proclaimed government seized control of the capital, Tripoli, with the support of militia groups, forcing the internationally-recognized government to move to the remote eastern city of Tobruk.
The two governments reached a consensus on forming the GNA last December after months of UN-brokered talks in Tunisia and Morocco to restore order to the country.