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Trump's first airstrikes in Libya kill 17 ISIS militants

The Trump administration launched its first drone strikes in Libya Friday, killing 17 ISIS militants at a training camp 240 kilometers southeast of Sirte.

During the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump was hugely critical of Barack Obama’s military interventions. Yet the Libya raid means Trump has bombed the same seven countries as Obama since taking office — Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Libya.


In a statement released Sunday, U.S. Africa Command said the camp “was used by ISIS to move fighters in and out of the country; stockpile weapons and equipment; and to plot and conduct attacks.” Trump personally signed off on the operation, CNN reported, citing an official.

The statement noted the raid was carried out in cooperation with Libya’s Government of National Accord, and U.S. operations against ISIS in the region would continue.

“The United States will track and hunt these terrorists, degrade their capabilities and disrupt their planning and operations by all appropriate, lawful, and proportional means, including precision strikes,” it said.

Previous U.S. airstrikes in Libya took place on Jan. 19, the day before Trump’s inauguration, part of a four-month blitz against ISIS during the last days of the Obama administration.

The Department of Defense said the January raid, which killed at least 80 fighters, had targeted ISIS operatives plotting attacks in Europe.

In December, U.S. airstrikes and militias aligned with the Government of National Accord, drove ISIS from Sirte. The terror group seized the coastal city in 2015, turning it into its main stronghold outside of Iraq and Syria and drawing a large number of foreign fighters.

Since the loss of Sirte, ISIS fighters in Libya have regrouped inland, looking to attract new recruits amid Libya’s political chaos.

Friday’s strike comes days after the U.N. launched a new road map to reconcile the rival authorities that have jockeyed for control of Libya since the 2011 uprising. Despite their differences, all sides remain opposed to ISIS strengthening its foothold in the country.

Trump said in April that he did not see a role for the U.S. in attempting to stabilize Libya, but that he would continue to fight ISIS.

“I do not see a role in Libya. I think the United States has right now enough roles,” he said. “I do see a role in getting rid of ISIS. We’re being very effective in that regard.”