On Friday, Pentagon officials were loudly championing their airstrikes in Libya, reporting 49 people killed in a strike near Tripoli, and speculating that a Tunisian man that they really wanted to kill was “likely” among them.
We still don’t have confirmation on the Tunisian, Noureddine Chouchane, but the Serbian government has confirmed that a pair of kidnapped Serbs from a diplomatic convoy were among the slain. Serbia was in the process of trying to secure their release.
The Pentagon says it had “no information” that there were Serbs or any other civilians present at the airstrike, and reiterated that they believed the people at the camp were plotting against “Western interests in the region.”
Western interests in Libya almost certainly means the oil industry, and ISIS has repeatedly tried to capture key oil ports along the coast. After the NATO-imposed regime change, Western companies invested heavily in Libyan oil, and has seen very little return on that as the country has been in a state of constant warfare ever since.
Whatever the pretext for the strike, Libya’s recognized government didn’t take too kindly to it, saying the US launched the attack without any advanced coordination with them, and that it amounted to a violation of Libyan sovereignty. The recognized (Tobruk) government only has territory in the far east, and the US likely didn’t consider them worth consulting on the strike in the west.