More than 80 ISIS (Islamic State) militants were killed in overnight US precision-guided massive airstrikes conducted near the Libyan city of Sirte, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Thursday evening. The US army also targeted various enemy positions in Iraq and Syria as part of their ongoing invective operation against the jihadist group.
A pair of American B-2 ‘stealth’ bombers and drones have carried out airstrikes on two suspected Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) training camps in Libya (45km or 28 miles south-west of Sirte), on Wednesday evening from a Missouri airbase. Dropping 108 precision-guided bombs and sending jihadists scattering — many of whom were then “cleaned up” by drone-launched hell-fire missiles, when the US military announced a successful conclusion to a months-long air campaign against the Islamic militant group, which helped clear the jihadists from Sirte.
“These were critically important strikes for our campaign and a clear example of our enduring commitment to destroy ISIL’s cancer not only in Iraq and Syria but everywhere it emerges,” the outgoing US defense secretary, Ashton Carter said, using an alternative acronym for the group also known as ISIS and Daesh.
— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) January 19, 2017
Two American B-2 stealth bombers that were flown all the way (30-plus hour roundtrip mission) from a base in Missouri and dropped more than 100 munitions (bombs and missiles) on two Islamic State camps for the operation. 100 munitions of a type known as a JDAM or Joint Direct Attack Munition, which is equipped with GPS guidance control to help it find its target with precision. Each B-2 is capable of carrying up to 80 JDAMs.
When asked why the world’s most technologically-advanced strategic bomber, the B-2 was selected for this particular mission, Peter Cook (The Pentagon press secretary) and Ashton Carter (US defense secretary) described the use of the B-2, the US air force’s central long-range bomber, as the decision of Thomas Waldhauser, the marine general in charge of US Africa Command.
The Defense officials did not say the particular number of suspected jihadists, who were operating in the camps, however officials said that an estimated 85 fighters were killed in the attack. Peter Cook confirmed the death of two senior al-Qaeda leaders in Syria and also Tunisian nationals – Abd al-Jalil al-Muslimi and Mohammad Habib Boussadoun al-Tunisi. Al-Muslimi was an al-Qaeda facilitator, who was killed in a 12 January precision airstrike near Saraqib, Syria. Al-Tunisi was an al-Qaeda external operations leader who was killed in a US precision airstrike on 17 January near Idlib, Syria.
In a separate statement, Cook also confirmed the death of a senior IS leader, Abu Anas al-Iraqi, in an air raid in Syria’s Raqqa on 8 January.
The jihadist group took over the city of Sirte in early 2015, turning it into its most important base outside the Middle East and extended its control along about 155 miles of Libya’s Mediterranean coastline.
According to US defense officials, the strikes were authorised by President Obama. The strikes were targeted primarily at ISIS fighters who had escaped from Sirte after US strikes virtually destroyed the militants group in the coastal city last summer. Obama has increasingly relied on bombers, armed drones, and special forces on the ground to go after these types of targets in Iraq and Syria.
The United States has carried out about 500 airstrikes in Sirte since August, mostly from drones flown from the region targeting Islamic State militants. Cobra attack helicopters and Marine Harrier jets conducted airstrikes as well from a Navy amphibious assault ship off the coast of Libya in August.