2 August 2016
The U.S. has launched airstrikes against Islamic State strongholds in Libya’s Sirte city at the request of the Libyan Presidency Council, Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj has said.
“The Presidency Council decided in its capacity as the supreme command of the Libyan armed forces, to demand direct U.S. support to conduct targeted airstrikes against the strongholds of the Daesh organisation.
“The first of these airstrikes has already kicked off on specific locations in Sirte, causing severe loses in the ranks of the enemy,’’ Sarraj said.
According to Sarraj, the airstrikes has enabled Libyan ground forces to control important strategic sites in the city.
He said that the call for U.S. support came in response to a request from the command of the Bonayan al-Marsous operation that fought against Islamic State and after consulting the defence minister.
Pro-government forces started an offensive in May to retake Sirte from the Islamic State.
Sirte, about 450 km east of the capital Tripoli, is strategically important because it links Libya’s east and west.
The Mediterranean city has been under Islamic State control since last year, becoming the group’s biggest bastion outside Syria and Iraq.
Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 revolt that toppled long-time leader, Mohammer Gaddafi.
Islamic State has taken advantage of the chaos to seize territories along the sparsely-populated central coast and expand in the oil-rich country.