US airstrike in Libya kills 17 suspected ISIS fighters

A total of 17 suspected ISIS fighters were killed last month by airstrikes in Libya that were coordinated between the U.S. and the United Nations-backed Libyan Government of National Accord, TIME magazine reported.

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), which aided in carrying out the attack, said it wasn’t aware of any civilian casualties or injuries resulting from the attack. Whether the order for the airstrikes came from Libyan or U.S. intelligence services is being kept secret for now to preserve the element of surprise in any future strikes.

“This ongoing campaign against ISIS-Libya demonstrates that U.S. Africa Command persistently targets terrorist networks that seek to harm innocent Libyans,” Navy Rear Admiral and director of intelligence at AFRICOM Heidi Berg said. “We will continue to pursue ISIS-Libya and other terrorists in the region, denying them safe haven to coordinate and plan operations in Libya.”

This represented the third airstrike in Libya during the month of September, and together the strikes were the first undertaken by the U.S. in Libya in over a year.

Multiple fronts

Libya’s Government of National Accord is also fighting other forces in the northwest that are under the direction of an American citizen, Khalifa Haftar, but U.S. forces are avoiding these areas and focusing on the southwest part of the country where they believe ISIS is based.

“U.S. Africa Command continues to support diplomatic efforts to stabilize the political situation in Libya in order to maintain our common focus on disrupting terrorist organizations that threaten regional stability,” read a statement from AFRICOM.

Senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International Donatella Rovera expressed a desire to see the most recent airstrike investigated.

“I work on the basis that cases need to be investigated,” she said. “It may be that their [AFRICOM’s] version of events in Libya is totally accurate, I don’t know.”

ISIS leader killed in Syria

On another front in the ongoing battle against ISIS, President Trump announced on Sunday that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. raid in Syria that had been planned for five months, according to Politico.

“The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him,” Trump said from the White House. “Baghdadi’s demise demonstrates America’s relentless pursuit of terrorist leaders and our commitment to the enduring and total defeat of ISIS and other terrorist organizations.”

No American personnel were killed in the raid, and two service members who sustained minor injuries are already back on duty, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, according to CBS News.

Fox reports that the United States had put a $25 million bounty on Baghdadi’s head, and he was considered among the most wanted men in the world.

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