US bombs IS camps in Libya
Washington, Jan 20 (IANS) US bombers struck and destroyed two Islamic State (IS) terror group camps in Libya with initial estimates that over 80 militants were killed, defence officials told CNN.
The strike was carried out on Thursday night by two US Air Force B-2 Spirit bombers flying from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, a 30-plus hour round-trip mission, and that over 100 bombs and missiles were dropped on the targets.
It was the first time the aircraft were used in an attack since 2011.
The mission was approved several days ago by President Barack Obama and is expected to be the last short notice military operation ordered by him, according to the officials.
The two camps that were destroyed were located about 28 miles southwest of Sirte, the Pentagon said.
“The fighters training in these camps posed a security risk to Libya, to its neighbours, to our allies in Africa and Europe, and to the US,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said late Thursday.
“While we are still evaluating the results of the strikes, the initial assessment indicates they were successful.”
The Department of Defence showed reporters a rare video of surveillance footage of the IS fighters as they loaded what appeared to be shells and rocket-propelled grenades into pick-up trucks. A second video showing the camps being bombed was also shown, CNN reported.
The number killed was not released by the Pentagon, but the first estimate put the figure at over 80. There were no women or children in the area, the officials said.
Cook described the camps as being in a “very rural area”.
US surveillance aircraft had been watching the sites for weeks as fighters fled from Sirte on the coastline into what they perceived to be the safety of remote desert areas. But the isolation of the area gave those surveillance aircraft clear imagery showing military-aged males in several areas.