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US bombing picks up against Islamic State militants in Libya

Sailors maneuver an AV-8B Harrier, from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp on Sept. 21, 2016.

RAWAD MADANAT/U.S. NAVY

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 11, 2016

STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. warplanes conducted 51 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya during a four-day span, marking some of the heaviest bombing since the start of Operation Odyssey Lightning, Africa Command said..

In all, the strikes between Friday and Monday hit about 155 targets, taking out almost exclusively “enemy fighting positions,” AFRICOM said.

The AFRICOM-led strikes are targeting Islamic State positions in and around the coastal city of Sirte, which is the focus of the U.S. mission in Libya. The airstrikes are in support of an offensive by ground forces aligned with the internationally backed Libyan government.

Since Aug. 1, the U.S. has conducted 261 airstrikes in Libya.

A few months ago, Islamic State fighters were in control of large parts of Sirte, where several thousand fighters were holed up. Since the offensive, the fighters — perhaps fewer than 200 — have been forced into a smaller section of the city, according to the U.S. military.

Libya has been in a state of virtual chaos since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in 2011. The Islamic State has sought to gain a foothold in parts of the country, taking advantage of the disorder.

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Marines attach a GBU-54 laser joint direct attack munition bomb to an AV-8B Harrier aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp. The 22nd MEU, embarked on Wasp, is conducting precision air strikes in support of the Libyan Government of National Accord-aligned forces against Islamic State targets in Sirte, Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Lightning.
MICHAEL MOLINA/U.S. NAVY

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