Africom conduct first anti Al-Qaeda (AQIM) air strikes in southern Libya
By Sami Zaptia.
London, 28 March 2018:
Mohamed El-Sallak, the official spokesperson for Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj, confirmed during his weekly press conference on Monday that Africom forces had conducted air strikes against extremists in the Ubari area of southern Libyan.
Libyan media (and social media photographs) had reported that two had been killed. Sallak said the ‘‘two killed’’ were ‘’leaders’’ of ‘‘extremist’’ groups ‘‘meeting in a house’’. He had not specified which extremist group.
U.S. media reports that this was the first Africom airstrike as far south as Ubari. Some media reports dispute reports that this was the first anti Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) air strike in Libya.
In its latest statement today, Africom said that ”in coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), U.S. forces conducted a precision airstrike near Ubari, Libya, on March 24, killing two al-Qa’ida terrorists, including Musa Abu Dawud, a high ranking al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) official.
Dawud trained AQIM recruits in Libya for attack operations in the region. He provided critical logistics support, funding and weapons to AQIM, enabling the terrorist group to threaten and attack U.S. and Western interests in the region.
U.S. Africa Command initially disclosed this strike on March 24. Now that operational reporting and the battle damage assessment is fully complete, the command is able to confirm the death of Dawud.
At this time, we assess no civilians were killed in this strike.
Counterterrorism operations in Libya are conducted in accordance with U.S. and international law. This strike was conducted under authority provided by Congress in the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force and in coordination with the GNA.
Al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups, such as ISIS, have taken advantage of under-governed spaces in Libya to establish sanctuaries for plotting, inspiring, and directing terror attacks; recruiting and facilitating the movement of foreign terrorist fighters; and raising and moving funds to support their operations. Left unaddressed, these organizations could continue to inflict casualties on the civilian populations and security forces, and plot attacks against U.S. citizens and allied interests in the region”, concluded today’s statement.
There are reports that the U.S. military is developing a new drone site in the central Niger city of Agadez that will become operational later this year which is expected to extend its reach into southern Libya.
AFRICOM had announced the conclusion of its military operations, part of ”Operation Odyssey Lightning” against IS/DAESH in and around the Libyan city of Sirte on 19 December 2016 following a similar announcement by the Serraj-led PC a day earlier.
The eight months of fighting in Sirte had taken the lives of at least 712 Bunyan Marsous fighters and the wounding of 3,210 more.