B-2 Bombers Strike ISIS Camps in Libya


Jan 19, 2017, 8:32 AM ET

U.S. officials confirm that two U.S. Air Force stealth B-2 bombers struck two ISIS camps in Libya 28 miles south of the city of Sirte Wednesday night. One official called the airstrikes "a huge success," with more than 80 ISIS fighters killed.
The airstrikes targeted between 80 and 100 ISIS fighters in multiple camps south of the coastal city of Sirte that had once been an ISIS stronghold in Libya, an official told ABC News. In addition to the B-2 bombers, an unmanned aircraft also participated in the airstrikes, the official said.
Many of the ISIS fighters in the camps had fled Sirte during the successful siege of the city last fall, according to another official. Militants were seen carrying weapons and mortars, wearing tactical vests and standing in formation.
"In conjunction with the Libyan Government of National Accord, the U.S. military conducted precision airstrikes Wednesday night destroying two ISIL camps 45 kilometers southwest of Sirtem," Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.
Cook said the ISIS fighters had fled to the remote desert camps "in order to reorganize, and they posed a security threat to Libya, the region, and U.S. national interests."
The airstrikes were authorized by President Obama and were carried out in coordination with Libya's Government of National Accord. They are considered to be an extension of Operation Odyssey Lightning, the American airstrike campaign that carried out almost 500 airstrikes against ISIS in Libya last fall.
While an assessment of the results of the airstrikes is ongoing, Cook called them "successful."
One counterterrorism official told ABC News there were "zero survivors" at the camps.
The ISIS operation in Libya has been a major concern for U.S. officials who have worried it could become another ISIS safe haven as the group faces growing military pressure in Iraq and Syria. U.S. officials have said the number of ISIS fighters inside Libya likely totals 1,000.
"The United States remains prepared to further support Libyan efforts to counter terrorist threats and to defeat ISIL in Libya," said Cook. "We are committed to maintaining pressure on ISIL and preventing them from establishing safe haven."
The airstrikes mark the first time B-2 stealth bombers have been used in combat since March 2011, when they were used in the first wave of strikes in Libya during the Gaddafi crisis.
In early December, ISIS was defeated in Sirte by local Libyan militia fighters who had surrounded the city over the summer.
From last August through last December, American manned and unmanned military aircraft conducted 495 airstrikes against the 1,000 ISIS fighters believed to be in the city. The Libyan militias, supporting Libya's Government of National Accord, were accompanied by American military advisers who coordinated the targeting of those airstrikes.
During the siege, U.S. officials estimated that hundreds of ISIS fighters had fled the Sirte to establish themselves elsewhere in Libya.
In order to carry out the mission, the B-2 bombers flew a long-round trip mission from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.