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U.S. Air Strike Hits IS Camp In Libya, Killing Dozens

By RFE/RL

A Pentagon spokesman has said U.S. forces hit a training camp for Islamic State (IS) militants in Libya, targeting a militant leader blamed for two terrorist attacks in Tunisia last year.

Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook said the strike on February 19 was aimed at Noureddine Chouchane, whom Tunisian officials blame for the March 2015 attacks on a museum in Tunis.

Cook didn't say whether Chouchane had been killed in the attack, which was in the town of Sabratha to the west of the capital, Tripoli.

Cook didn't say whether Chouchane, who is also known as Sabir, had been killed in the attack, which was in the town of Sabratha to the west of the capital, Tripoli. He said both manned and unmanned aircraft were involved.

Unnamed U.S. officials were quoted by The New York Times and the BBC as saying that Chouchane was likely killed.

As many as 60 fighters were being trained at the facility at times, Cook said. And he suggested that the fighters presented a direct threat to the United States and its allies.

The IS militant group "has made clear that it itself has declared an interest in going after the United States and U.S. interests around the world," Cook said. "They've demonstrated a willingness to do that.

"We believe these fighters, this training facility, was part of that effort, that posed a threat to the United States, and to Western interests, particularly in the region," he said. 

A local official in Sabratha said as many 41 people were killed and six injured.

Blame for an attack on a Tunisian beach resort in 2015 has also been pinned on Chouchane.

The air strike was the second by U.S. forces in recent months against IS fighters in Libya, where the radical group has exploited the power vacuum that followed Muammar Qaddafi's 2011 overthrow.

Earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama made a pointed reference to the growing danger of IS fighters bolstering their forces in Libya.

"We are working with our coalition partners to make sure that as we see opportunities to prevent [IS] from digging in, in Libya, we take them," Obama said on February 16.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

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