US Africa command ends operation in Daesh bastion in Libya
The US military has formally announced the end of operations in the Libyan city of Sirte following the recent capturing of the coastal city from the clutches of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group (ISIL).
Washington began its military campaign in Libya – known as Operation Odyssey Lightning – on August 1, under the pretext of helping the Libyan unity government in a fight against the Takfiri group, which rose to power in the oil-rich country in 2011.
“The United States Africa Command concluded Operation Odyssey Lightning December 19, following an announcement from the Libyan government of the end of offensive military operations in Sirte,” the Pentagon said in a statement on Tuesday.
“In partnership with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), the operation succeeded in its core objective of enabling GNA-aligned forces to drive Daesh (ISIL) out of Sirte,” it added.
Africa Command claimed that the US had conducted a total of 495 airstrikes against Daesh positions in Libya since August 1.
Libya’s unity government has repeatedly denounced the presence of foreign troops as “violation” of the country’s sovereignty.
The Pentagon made the announcement three days after Fayez al-Sarraj, the GNA’s leader, said in a televised speech that the city had been under full control of forces loyal to the internationally-recognized government.
“The battle for Sirte is over but the war against terrorism in Libya is not finished,” Sarraj said on Saturday.
He also called on all factions and military forces to unite under “one single army,” inviting different political parties in the North African country to work together to resolve the issues facing Libya.
Sirte, located 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of the capital Tripoli, is the hometown of former slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi and the main bastion of the terrorist group outside Iraq and Syria.
Daesh, which captured Sirte more than a year ago, had taken advantage of a chaos gripping Libya since 2011.
Forces loyal to the GNA launched the final offensive to retake Sirte from Daesh terrorists on December 5. Located on the Mediterranean coast, the city was the main urban center that Daesh managed to seize outside Iraq and Syria.
The GNA, endorsed by the United Nations and several Western governments, has yet to fully establish its authority across Libya.