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US says killed two 'terrorists' in air strike in southern Libya

March 25, 2018 at 1:30 pm

A US F18 Hornet aircraft is launched off the deck of US aircraft carrier USS George Washington during its mission in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on February 21, 2017 [Murat Kaynak / Anadolu Agency]

US forces said they had killed “two terrorists” in an air strike in southwestern Libya on Saturday as part of efforts to deny militants a safe haven in the country’s vast desert, reported Reuters.

The strike hit on the outskirts of the city of Ubari and was carried out in coordination with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, the US Africa Command said in a statement.

“At this time, we assess no civilians were killed in this strike,” the statement said.

A witness in Ubari told Reuters by telephone that a large explosion had been heard around midday.

A house in the Fursan neighbourhood was hit and two bodies were found there, he said. Residents from the neighbourhood said the house was frequented by foreigners, according to the witness, who did not want to be identified for security reasons.

Pictures in local media showed a body on the ground with several limbs and its head missing, and a car with its windows blown out and dozens of holes in one side. US forces have carried out occasional air strikes targeting militants in Libya over the past few years.

They also launched an air campaign against Daesh in the group’s former Libyan stronghold of Sirte in 2016, as local forces battled to oust militant from the city.

Last year, the United States said it had killed dozens of suspects in air strikes in desert areas south of Sirte as it tried to stop militants regrouping.

Saturday was the first time it had acknowledged a strike as far south as Ubari, which lies about 700 km (435 miles) south of Tripoli, on the road to Libya’s border with Algeria.

Libyan and Western officials have long warned about the risk of militants linked to Daesh and al-Qaeda using southern Libya as a base.

“We are committed to maintaining pressure on the terror network and preventing terrorists from establishing safe haven,” the US Africa Command statement said.

It gave no information about the identity of those targeted.

Libya slid into conflict after a 2011 Nato-backed uprising and has had rival governments based in Tripoli and the east for the past four years.