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Obama Discusses Anti-IS Fight With US Military, Security Leaders

  • VOA News

From left, Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrive for a National Security Council Meeting on efforts to counter the Islamic State campaign group, Aug. 4, 2016, at the Pentagon.

From left, Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrive for a National Security Council Meeting on efforts to counter the Islamic State campaign group, Aug. 4, 2016, at the Pentagon.

As the U.S. military ramps up its military role in Libya, President Barack Obama met Thursday with top military and national security advisors to discuss the fight against Islamic State.

Obama met with members of the National Security Council at the Pentagon as the U.S. launches more airstrikes in and around the terror group's stronghold of Sirte, in support of forces affiliated with the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

"The finish line is in sight," Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis told reporters Tuesday, "and we are helping [the GNA] get there."

The president usually meets with council members at the White House, but has occasionally met them at other locations such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department. By convening Thursday's meeting at the Pentagon, Obama planned to highlight his administration's comprehensive approach to defeating IS.

A fighter of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government runs for cover with another fighter while carrying a wounded fighter during a battle with Islamic State fighters in Sirte, Libya, July 31, 2016.

A fighter of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government runs for cover with another fighter while carrying a wounded fighter during a battle with Islamic State fighters in Sirte, Libya, July 31, 2016.

Operation Odyssey Lighting

The air operation in Libya, dubbed Operation Odyssey Lightning, began this week, and is designed to help the U.N.-backed government's fight to retake Sirte from IS. The Pentagon said the operation would probably last weeks rather than months.

The GNA-aligned forces have spent several months whittling down IS territory along the coastline of the Gulf of Sidra from Tripoli to near Benghazi. Davis said thanks to GNA-aligned fighters, IS control in Libya has essentially collapsed to the city center of Sirte.

Forces associated with the GNA have faced improvised explosive devices, small arms and sniper fire in their fight to retake the city. The Pentagon estimates IS fighter numbers have been reduced from thousands in the city to fewer than 1,000.

After Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi was ousted in 2011, IS extremists targeted Libya as a safe haven outside its initial strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

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