WASHINGTON – The United States on Monday launched fresh airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group in Libya to support the UN-backed regime for as long as it requested, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook confirmed at a press briefing.
The strikes, which took place in the coastal town of Sirte, came without any formal approval by the US Congress or even a debate in the House. Sirte was taken over by IS fighters in June last year.
Responding to a query about the possible outcome of the strikes, Peter Cook said “We want to strike at ISIS anywhere it raises its head and Libya is one of those places”, further adding that there was currently “no end point” in sight for the campaign.
“The fresh attacks mark a new beginning of an ongoing American air campaign in Libya,” he went on to say.
Meanwhile, the White House Spokesman said that the airstrikes were authorized by President Barack Obama on special request by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who has been in touch with Libyan unity government.
Both Pentagon and White House officials, however, did not comment on the possible damages to the Islamic State militants as a result of the strikes.
The air strikes are the first US military moves targeting Libya since the establishment of a unity government in the disturbed African country.
Earlier in January this year, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford had hinted at launching a decisive military campaign against ISIS in Libya.
The statement was largely criticized by the US media and the New York Time termed the announcement “deeply troubling” in an editorial, adding that such an act could result in “significant progression of a war that could easily spread to other countries on the continent.”