LIBYA (REUTERS) - US military strikes in Libya on Wednesday night (Jan 18) have killed more than 80 fighters from the Islamic State, some of whom were believed to be actively plotting attacks in Europe, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday (Jan 19).
“We need to strike ISIL everywhere they show up. And that's particularly true in view of the fact that we know some of the ISIL operatives in Libya were involved with plotting attacks,” Carter said.
A Pentagon spokesman said an initial assessment indicated the US military strikes destroyed two camps southwest of Sirte, Libya.
Libyan forces backed by US airstrikes finished clearing the last Islamic State holdout in Sirte last month after a battle of nearly seven months for the militant group's former North African stronghold. The US also carried out about 470 air strikes against Islamic State targets in Sirte during that campaign.
The loss of Sirte was a major blow for Islamic State, leaving the group without any territory in Libya, although it retains an active presence in parts of the vast country.
The jihadist group took over Sirte in early 2015, turning it into its most important base outside the Middle East and attracting large numbers of foreign fighters into the city. It imposed its ultra-hardline rule on residents, and extended its control along about 250km of Libya's Mediterranean coastline.
Since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011 by rebel forces backed by NATO air strikes, Libya has slipped deeper into chaos.