U.S. Military Officially Ends Anti-Islamic State Operations in Sirte, Libya

The Islamic State group's leader in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed, was killed in July in a strike in the border region between the two countries, a US defense official says

The United States military has officially ended Operation Odyssey Lightning, which was launched on August 1 to help Libyan forces push Islamic State (ISIS) militants from their stronghold of Sirte.

The AFRICOM statement declared:

In partnership with the Libyan Government of National Accord, the operation succeeded in its core objective of enabling GNA-aligned forces to drive Daesh out of Sirte by conducting 495 precision airstrikes against Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices, heavy guns, tanks, command and control centers and fighting positions.

“The United States remains committed to working with the GNA, the Libyan people and partners in the region to counter the evolving threat of Daesh and other violent extremist organizations,” the statement added.

The Libya Herald notes the statement was issued on December 20, the day after Prime Minister-elect Faiez Serraj “officially announced victory and the end of fighting against IS/DAESH in Sirte.”

The Herald reported that eight months of fighting in Sirte claimed the lives of “at least 712 Bunyan Marsous fighters and the wounding of 3,210 more.”

Bunyan Marsous is the Libyan name for the operation to retake Sirte from ISIS, roughly translating to “Operation Impenetrable Wall.”

CNN points out that Libya is not yet free of ISIS, and ISIS is far from the only violent faction in the ruined nation:

While this might be the end of ISIS’ control of major territory in Libya, it certainly is not the end of the group. ISIS still has a presence in different parts of Libya and the deteriorating living conditions, services and security that led to its rise has not changed.

Militia turf wars and political power struggles are common and over the past week intense clashes rocked the capital Tripoli. By some accounts the fighting was the worst in two years.

“Defeating terrorism throughout Libya benefits all Libyans,” said UN special envoy Martin Kobler. “I pay tribute to the Libyans who have sacrificed their lives for this common cause. My sincere condolences to their families and I wish those injured a speedy recovery.”

“Libyans should remain vigilant in the face of terrorism. I call on Libyans to seize this opportunity to promote national reconciliation and push ahead with the implementation of the interim security arrangements. This requires the integration and rehabilitation of fighters and weapons’ collection to give way to a professional security apparatus with a unified command,” Kobler added.


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