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US airstrikes target Islamic State militants in Libya

US airstrikes target Islamic State militants in Libya

US President Barack Obama earlier this year directed his national security team to bolster counter-terrorism efforts in Libya while also pursuing diplomatic possibilities for solving its political crisis.

The United States and its allies have become increasingly concerned about the group's growing presence near those refineries, which could provide the militant group with another source of revenue and leverage over the weak groups competing for power in the country.

A United States official confirmed on Friday that USA forces conducted air strikes against the Islamic State group in Libya.

There were varying reports of how many people were killed in the US airstrikes.

A witness in the city said he heard two explosions coming from the nearby village of Qasr Talel.

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Counter-terrorism officials believe Chouchane played a key role in two attacks in Tunisia that came in the spring and summer of 2015. US officials are still trying to determine if Chouchane was killed in the attack.

Talking to reporters while traveling in Europe, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said the United States wants to "take decisive military action" to "check" ISIS in Libya. Almost a million Libyans crossed the border into Tunisia during the 2011 uprising against Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. It has been also a transit point for North African jihadists joining IS affiliates in their strongholds in the central city of Sirte and eastern cities such as Benghazi. US and British special forces have been mapping out militant leaders and networks in Libya for a few months.

The official declined to be identified because he is not authorized to discuss the airstrike publicly. Additional intelligence would help refine targets for any sort of military strikes, but surveillance drones are in high demand elsewhere, including in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

A defense official told ABC News that ISIS leaders have told foreign fighters to head to Libya instead of Iraq and Syria, where it has gotten too hard for them to enter.

"We will continue to take actions where we've got a clear operation and a clear target in mind", he said. "And that's been a problem".


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