Citing a formal request from the UN-backed “unity government,” US warplanes today began a substantial bombing campaign against the city of Sirte, an ISIS-held city on Libya’s central coast. Details are scant, but early reports detail “heavy losses” among ISIS forces.
The US has been known to be planning to expand their air war against ISIS into Libya for months, and the formal request from the “unity government,” one of several would-be governments of Libya, finally provided them some legal cover to do so.
Pentagon officials said the attacks were carried out in keeping with their ongoing approach to fighting ISIS, adding that strikes will continue with an eye toward ensuring that the unity government secures control over Sirte. The airstrikes were said to focus on destroying tanks and other armored vehicles.
The Pentagon wrongly claimed that there are “no US boots on the ground” in Libya, even though it has been confirmed for months that US troops are active in Libya, and administration officials have even confirmed this, saying they are there looking for allies.
The unity government is just one of several forces trying to take over Sirte from ISIS, including the rival Tripoli parliament and its allies in the Misrata militia. It remains to be seen if the US focus is solely on ensuring ISIS loses the city, or if they will commit militarily to resist it falling to another faction.