ISIS, also known as Islamic State, was dealt a blow by U.S. forces on Feb. 19, when warplanes targeted the group in Libya, killing as many as 43 people, Reuters reports.
The operation targeted Noureddine Chouchane, who allegedly carried out attacks that killed dozens of tourists in his native Tunisia in 2015.
"Destruction of the camp and Chouchane's removal will eliminate an experienced facilitator and is expected to have an immediate impact on ISIL's ability to facilitate its activities in Libya, including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya, and potentially planning external attacks on U.S. interests in the region,” the Pentagon said.
Hussein al-Thwadi, mayor of Sabratha, the Libyan city where the airstrike occurred, said the attack also hit a district that is home to many foreigners. A death toll could not be confirmed by officials outside the Pentagon, although other officials said it’s likely Chouchane is dead.
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White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the airstrike was, “an indication that the president will not hesitate to take these kinds of forceful, decisive actions.”
President Barack Obama said earlier this week that it’s important that Libya’s future is kept at the forefront.
“There is a whole bunch of constituencies who are hardened fighters and don’t ascribe to ISIS or their perverted ideology. But they have to be organized and can’t be fighting each other. That is probably as important as anything that we are going to be doing in Libya over the coming months,” the president told the Financial Times.
The United Nations agreed, but warned that the fight against ISIS must follow international accords.
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This was the second U.S. airstrike against ISIS in Libya in three months.