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US Launches New Airstrikes Against Islamic State in Libya

FILE - Smokes rises after an airstrike on an Islamic State target in Sirte, Libya, Sept. 28, 2016. On Tuesday, the U.S. military launched a new series of strikes against the group in Libya.

The U.S. military has launched new airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Libya, officials tell VOA.

U.S. Africa Command spokesperson Robyn Mack said the strikes occurred on November 17 and 19 near Fuqaha “in coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).”

Another military official confirmed that several Islamic State militants were killed.

“We are committed to maintaining pressure on the terror network and preventing them from establishing safe haven,” Mack said.

In September, 17 militants were killed during six precision strikes nearly 250 kilometers southeast of Sirte, a coastal city where the U.S. and Libyan government have driven out Islamic State fighters who had tried to establish a hub there in the north African country.

The military carried out about 500 airstrikes last year against the Islamic State fighters in Sirte. And in January, armed drones and B-2 bombers attacked IS training camps in Libya, killing more than 80 militants.

The increase in strikes in Libya and Somalia have led some to suggest the Pentagon may be ramping up pressure on terror groups in Africa, a claim the Pentagon has rejected.

“I do not believe necessarily there's a ramp-up. It's the density of targets is such that now there's some opportunities to do those strikes,” Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie told reporters last week. “As [the targets] become available and as we're able to process them and vet them, we strike them,” he added.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.