The US Pentagon announced it targeted an “Islamic State” (IS) training camp near Sabratha on people who were allegedly involved in two terror attacks in Tunisia last year.
The death toll from the US airstrikes on Libya rose to 43 persons.
According to the statement, the facility was tied to Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian militant who was involved in the two terror attacks that targeted a museum in the Tunisian capital and a resort in Souse.
“Destruction of the camp and Chouchane’s removal will eliminate an experienced facilitator and is expected to have an immediate impact on [IS]’s ability to facilitate its activities in Libya, including recruiting new [IS] members, establishing bases in Libya, and potentially planning external attacks on US interests in the region,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The death of Chouchane is yet to be confirmed. Two Serbian citizens who were abducted by IS in Libya were killed in the raid. Pictures published by local authorities showed a large hole after the attack and some injured people.
Local authorities said in a statement that the raid targeted a house near Sabratha that was rented by foreigners suspected to be IS affiliated.
US president Barack Obama previously warned that his country will take serious action in Libya when it had identified targets. The UK said it allowed the US to use its base to carry out the raid.
US reports said earlier that the White House is reviewing plans to target IS in Libya. Western countries are concerned over the spread of terrorism in Libya since IS began targeting oil facilities.
IS has recently made significant gains in Libya and controls three Libyan cities: Derna, Sirte, and Sabratha. Recent clashes between the Libyan Army of the Tobruk government and IS have played out against the backdrop of Libya’s oil facilities in Al-Sedra and Ras Lanuf, a crucial source of revenue for the political factions vying for control of the country. In January, IS seized the city of Beni Jawad, near Al Sedra and Ras Lanuf.
Political analyst Youssef Cherif previously told Daily News Egypt that western countries knows air raids will not resolve the situation and that they will need to deploy ground troops. “The West is not ready to send troops and lose soldiers, and besides, the Libyans are not really in favour of welcoming foreign troops,” Cherif said.
The West does not have reliable allies on the ground in Libya. “Even Haftar’s forces, those most committed to fight the Islamists, are divided.”
Cherif expected the West to begin military intervention with a minor air campaign, while it continues to try to arrange a stronger, more unified Libyan army. Cherif also suggested the US would welcome a situation in which Egypt and Algeria accepted to send troops to Libya.