US bombing strikes reported beyond city of Sirte in Llbya

Apparently, the United States has extended its bombing campaign in Libya which until now has been confined to attacks on the last remaining Islamic State (IS) fighters in the city of Sirte.

The Libya Observer reports on the strikes, claiming that sources from the Municipality of Bani Walid to the east and south of Tripoli confirmed the airstrikes in an area southwest of the city. They claimed that the planes were likely American. Apparently, the bombs hit Wadi Al Makarkan and Saiba where two armed vehicles were found on a desert path. The route is used by the IS to move around.
Sources close to the Presidential Council (PC) of the Government of National Accord claim that PM Faiez Serraj had met with the chief of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in Tunisia to discuss expanding airstrikes in Libya Attackson IS positions in Sirte began on August 1.
The U.S. Africa Command is acting on the request of and in coordination with the GNA. On August 22nd the Command reported that it attacked an IS supply truck and ten fighting positions. This brings the total number of strikes since August 1 to 77. The Command said that the strikes will help prevent the IS from having a haven from which to attack the U.S. and its allies.
The U.S. is using the Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra Helicopter on some of the attacks. Last weekend the helicopter gunships were said to be used in nine air strikes. An official said that the IS fighters were now holed up in the densest most built-up part of Sire, and that the helicopter was adept at fighting in such a situation. The Libyan forces on the ground give the helicopter information as to where the enemy is located.
With the help of the U.S. bombing attack and also special forces from the U.S. and U.K. among others on the ground, the forces of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos or BAM, loyal to the GNA, have been able to clear the IS from all but a few remaining areas of Sirte. As BAM advances it is thought that many IS fighters have fled to other parts of Libya or even beyond. Some are said to have gone towards the border with Algeria and Niger where security is lacking. Among the Libyan cities thought to be a risk, according to the Libyan Gazette, is Bani Walid: "Bani Walid, a Libyan city located between Tripoli and Misrata in the country’s southern region, is said to be in a vulnerable state and might be ISIS’s next target." Bani Walid, as Sirte, had -or has- many Gadaffi sympathizers. Even though the IS may lose its last territory in Sirte, it can launch terror attacks from many locations where it has sleeper cells. The bombing attacks near Bani Walid may indicate that the U.S. is going to play a role throughout Libya wherever intelligence shows that IS units are active. This is somewhat similar to the role that the U.S. has been playing for some time in Yemen in relationship to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State in Yemen. As you can see from the appended video, BAM fighters still do not have basic equipment such as helmets.


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