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Pentagon shifts to Libya for airstrikes on Daesh

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The United States military has deployed spy drones to Libya where the Pentagon’s latest shift over Daesh (ISIL) will reportedly see added air fire against militants in the North African state.

American surveillance drones have been moved into the skies over Libya to gather intelligence against militants there and based on recommendations from the US commander for Africa.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, has told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the decision was made more than a month ago to increase resources for US Africa Command.

Earlier this month, General David Rodriguez, head of US Africa Command, said the number of ISIL militants in Libya has doubled in the last year or so to as many as 6,000. He said the terror group seeks to conduct attacks against the US and other nations in the West.

ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, now control parts of Syria and Iraq. They have been engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.

Daesh and other militant groups have used Libya’s lack of security over the past few years to build a base in the country.

A burnt-out car is seen in a street of the city of Benghazi after militant fighting there. (AFP)

The US has conducted two airstrikes in Libya in recent months targeting purported Daesh militants and commanders, but Rodriguez said that those are limited to militants that pose an “imminent” threat to US interests. He also said it is possible the US could do more as a Libyan government takes shape there.

Formed under a power-sharing deal signed on December 17 last year in Morocco, Libya’s Government of National Reconciliation is tasked with taking over from rival groups running different parts of the North African state.

The new government, however, has not yet received the endorsement of the internationally-recognized government, which is largely based in the northeastern city of Tobruk.

Libya’s two rival administrations have been vying for power since mid-2014, when militias overran the capital and forced the parliament to flee to the country’s remote east.

Head of US Africa Command further said that local militias have had some success in trying to stop Daesh from growing in the northern port city of Benghazi and are battling the militants in Sabratha. But he said that decisions to provide more military assistance to the Libyans await a working national government.

Libya has been struggling with instability since 2011, when the country’s then dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown. Armed militia groups have been fighting one another since then.

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