Map of Benghazi Libya
Benghazi Libya

PENTAGON - A U.S. airstrike in Libya has killed seven Islamic State fighters, according to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

It is the fourth U.S. strike this month against the terror group in the southwestern Libyan town of Murzuq.

One airstrike last week killed 17 IS militants, and another killed 11, according to AFRICOM. A strike on Sept. 19 killed eight IS militants.

The strikes were carried out in coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord to degrade IS's "ability to effectively conduct operations against the Libyan people,” said Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, AFRICOM director of operations.

U.S. officials say the deteriorating security situation in Libya has allowed militants affiliated with IS to expand their presence in ungoverned spaces of the desert in the country's south.

Troops affiliated with the Government of National Accord have been fighting forces led by strongman Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army. The fighting has left hundreds of people dead in Tripoli and in nearby cities and towns.

In recent months, IS has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks against Libyan civilians and military personnel.  

But as IS has become more emboldened by the current political chaos in Libya, U.S. officials tell VOA they have also made themselves an easier target.

Some reports say that between 500 and 750 IS fighters are currently active in Libya, but experts think the number is higher than what has been reported as foreign fighters continue to flee there from Syria.