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Obama Directs Pentagon To Counter Islamic State Growth In Libya

U.S. President Barack Obama has directed his national security advisers to counter efforts by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group to expand into Libya and elsewhere, the White House said late on January 28.

IS has taken advantage of chaos in Libya to establish itself in the city of Sirte, and they have carried out several attacks on oil installations this month.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said IS was establishing training sites in Libya and welcoming foreign fighters the way it had done in Iraq and Syria in years past.

"We don't want to be on a glide slope to a situation like Syria and Iraq," where IS at one point took control of one-third of the territory, he said. "That's the reason why we're watching it that closely. That's the reason why we develop options for what we might do in the future."

The Pentagon has already sent "a small number of military personnel" into Libya to try to "to engage in conversations with local forces to get a clearer picture of exactly what's happening there," spokesman Peter Cook said on January 27.

"We're looking at military options," Cook said.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP