US B-2 bombers strike two ISIS camps in Libya

US B-2 bombers strike two ISIS camps in Libya
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Two U.S. B-2 bombers struck two ISIS camps in Libya Wednesday night, dropping more than 100 munitions and killing more than 80 militants, the Pentagon announced Thursday morning. 

The strikes destroyed two camps located 45 kilometers southwest of Sirte, which was the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's stronghold in the country until a joint U.S.-Libya military operation, Operation Odyssey Dawn, routed the group last month. 

Pentagon officials said the strikes were to take out "squirters" who fled Sirte and were trying to reorganize and reconstitute. 

Outgoing Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a surprise appearance at the Pentagon podium on Thursday, said the strikes were directed against some of ISIS's members who were "actively plotting operations against our allies in Europe."

"So these were critically important strikes for our campaign and a clear example of our enduring commitment to destroy ISIL's cancer not only in Iraq and Syria, but everywhere it emerges," he said, using an acronym for ISIS. 

The Pentagon aired video at the briefing of the targeted fighters before the strike, showing them carrying weapons. Officials said they were also seen wearing tactical vests and standing in formation. 

No women or children, or other civilians, were killed in the airstrikes, a defense official said. Unmanned aircraft, MQ-9 Reapers, were also involved in the Libya strikes, another defense official said. 

Carter also summarized ongoing efforts against ISIS, on his last day in office. 

"While we struck in Libya, our local partners in Iraq, with our advice and assistance, managed to secure all critical areas in eastern Mosul. As they now prepare to clear the western part of Mosul, I'm confident that ISIL's days in Mosul are numbered," he said. 

"Meanwhile in Syria, our local partners continue to converge down on Raqqah and I'm also confident that they will soon have ISIL's so-called capital isolated," he added. 

Carter played down any special significance in employing B-2 bombers to conduct the strikes, versus other assets, but other defense officials admitted there was a message being sent to ISIS. 
 
"Obviously it sends a message...to ISIL that we can essentially reach out to wherever you are," Air Force spokesman Col. Pat Ryder told reporters. 

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Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said President Obama authorized the airstrikes as an extension of Operation Odyssey Dawn, but would not clarify whether the campaign was extended and for how long, or whether it was just one strike that was approved as part of the campaign, which was previously limited to Sirte. 

Still, he indicated that there would be more such strikes. 

"We are committed to maintaining pressure on ISIL and preventing them from establishing safe haven," he said. 

"These strikes will degrade ISIL's ability to stage attacks against Libyan forces and civilians working to stabilize Sirte, and demonstrate our resolve in countering the threat posed by ISIL to Libya, the United States and our allies."