Will the US take a leaf out of Russia’s book and provide video evidence, force us to take their word, or continue to steal Russian footage?
"CNN have only two news today:
- President Bush, President Klingon and President Hussein Obama spoke against Donald Trump at once
- Great Victory of our Air-Force against a beach in Libya"
US warplanes strike ISIS camp in Libya, more than 40 reported killed
19 February, 2016
US warplanes hit an Islamic State camp in the Libyan city of Sabratha early on Friday, according to a US military spokesman. The airstrike killed as many as 40 people.
The airstrike specifically targeted a Tunisian, Noureddine Chouchane, also known as “Sabir”, a senior operative believed to be behind the deadly attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March, 2015, the Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement on Friday.
The present results of the operation are being assessed, according to Cook.
“Destruction of the camp and Chouchane's removal will eliminate an experienced facilitator and is expected to have an immediate impact on ISIL's ability to facilitate its activities in Libya, including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya, and potentially planning external attacks on US interests in the region,” the statement reads.
The mayor of Sabratha, Hussein al-Thwadi, told Reuters that the planes struck at 3:30am local time, hitting a building in the Qasr Talil district, where foreign workers were living. He said 41 people were killed and six others wounded.
جانب من آثار الدمار الذي خلفه قصف طيران مجهول لمنزل بضاحية تليل جنوب غرب مدينة #صبراتة فجر اليوم الجمعة. #أجواء_نت
Chouchane has been linked to two major attacks in Tunisia in 2015 – one which killed 22 people in an assault on the National Bardo Museum, and one that killed 38 people at a beach resort in Sousse.
The BBC reported that British bases are believed to have been involved in the Friday attack.
It comes just days after US President Barack Obama said he has been “clear from the outset that we will go after ISIS wherever it appears, the same way that we went after Al-Qaeda wherever they appeared.”
“We will continue to take actions where we’ve got a clear operation and a clear target in mind,” he said, adding, “As we see opportunities to prevent ISIS from digging in, in Libya, we take them.”
Both American and British special operations teams have increased reconnaissance missions to Libya in recent months, aiming to identify IS leaders and their networks for possible strikes.
The head of the foreign news media office in Tripoli, Jamal Naji Zubia, said the strikes targeted a farmhouse about six to nine miles outside Sabratha, which had been seized by IS militants.
“They came individually to the house from different places,” he said, adding that most of those killed were Tunisian. Some officials believe the militants had gathered on Friday to hear a speech by a Muslim religious leader.
The US is launching airstrikes against IS in Syria and Libya, though it does not have a UN Security Council mandate to do so.
Jumping the gun? British jets already flying Libya missions, preempting political agreement http://on.rt.com/7472
The airstrike comes as Libya marks the fifth anniversary of the Western-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi. Since then, the country has been in political chaos and facing a growing threat from IS, which is looking to capitalize on the lack of stability and infighting among politicians.
Although Washington and its allies maintain they did the right thing by overthrowing the regime, Amnesty International has slammed NATO coalition members, saying they need to be “held to account” for the “horrors that have unfolded in Libya.”
Earlier this week, Libya's Presidential Council announced the formation of a revised national unity government under a UN-backed plan aimed at ending the country's conflict.
A list of 13 ministers and five ministers of state has been sent to the country's eastern parliament for approval.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook confirmed in January that the US is “looking at military options” in relation to Libya, adding that US troops on the ground have been working to “get a better sense of who the players are, who might be worthy of US support.”
“I’m not going to tell you exactly what the disposition of our forces are there,” he said. “I can acknowledge that we've had forces on the ground previously as we've indicated, to engage in conversations with local forces to get a clearer picture of exactly what's happening there.
“The reason for the presence of those troops is to, again, get a sense of the forces on the ground, the players on the ground and exactly what's happening, because it is a muddled picture right now. And we - that is one of the best ways we can get a better sense of what's happening.”
That statement followed a similar remark by General Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“It’s fair to say that we’re looking to take decisive military action against ISIL [in Libya] in conjunction with a legitimate political process,” Dunford said in January. “The president has made clear that we have the authority to use military force.”
According to Dunford, the US, France, Italy and the UK are looking at how to curb the growth of IS in Libya before is spreads further across the region. He said it was important to “put a firewall” between IS in Libya and other Islamic extremist groups on the African continent, while working to strengthen African militaries and governments to fight the militants themselves.
“Although I want to move quickly, we’ve got to make sure we do this right,” Dunford said last month.
Despite US troops on the ground in Libya, it was reported in December that when 20 US soldiers were dropped with their vehicles near Watia, Libya, local officers and soldiers “refused their intervention, disarmed them and forced them off Libyan lands.”
Senior US defense officials confirmed to NBC News that the incident had taken place, adding that US forces have been “in and out of Libya” for “some time now” to advise Libyan forces.
DoD, State Dept. struggle to explain Libya strike legality with 15yo authorization & some intl law
20 February, 2015
Having confirmed a strike on an ISIS camp in Libya, Washington officials had difficulties explaining under which legal authority the US acts. While the Pentagon cites post-9/11 legislation, stripped of such powers, the State Department refers to unnamed international laws.
On Friday, the US announced that its warplanes targeted a training camp near the Libyan city of Sabratha, reportedly killing up to 40 people. The Pentagon has treated the attack as a success as it declared the elimination of a Tunisian national, Noureddine Chouchane, who was an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) facilitator in Libya.
Also known as "Sabir," the militant is believed to be behind the deadly attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March 2015.
BREAKING: US warplanes strike ISIS camp in Libya, killing more than 30 – report http://on.rt.com/74xb
However, regardless of its achievement, the US authority to carry out strikes on Libyan soil has again come into question. It has appeared that Washington does not have a single answer.
After briefing reporters on Friday, the Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook was asked to clarify under what authority the US came to Libya, given that no Americans had been killed in the 2015 Tunisia attack.
“We have struck in Libya previously under the existing Authorization for the use of [military] force,” Cook replied.
The Pentagon’s spokesperson allegedly referred to the AUMF, which was passed and then signed by President George W. Bush shortly after 9/11, in September 2001, to target al-Qaeda. It authorized United States Armed Forces to carry out attacks against those responsible for September 11.
However, the Defense Department “believes” that the AUMF can be used 15 years later to fight ISIS.
“We believe that this was carried out under international law and, specifically, that this operation was consistent with domestic and international law,” Cook said, while not explicitly referring to any particular legislation.
In February 2015, President Obama did propose his own AUMF, which “does not address the 2001 AUMF”, but the draft was rejected by the Congress in December.
Other AUMF drafts, including for example, one of the most recently submitted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have not gotten Congressional approval either.
RT has also tried to clarify the US’s authority for the attack with the State Department, but failed to get a conclusive answer.
RT’s Gayane Chichikyan: “Under what legal authority did the US carry out strikes in Libya this morning?”
State Department’s Mark Toner: “It was in full accordance with international law. We’ve talked about this many times. I’d refer you to the Department of Defense to speak about specifics.”
Chichikyan: “So not the AUMF? It’s – it was international law?”
Toner: “Exactly. I mean – exactly.” He then refused to “get into details here,” again readdressing the question back to the Pentagon.
Approved by ‘some Libyan authority’?
At the same time both departments unanimously stress that “the Libyan authorities were aware” about the US’s strike. However, when asked to specify what “Libyan authorities” he referred to, Toner seemed to be at a loss, saying that “there is some governmental structure present” there.
“The new – well, I mean, there’s obviously Libyan authorities on the ground,” he replied to a question about Libya’s recently announced unity government. “It’s not – we’re still working to stand up the Government of National Accord. We want to see it returned and establish itself in Tripoli.”
Meanwhile, as experts tell RT, until its approval, the UN-backed unity government does not have powers to authorize foreign intervention.
“There is really no Libyan authority in existence that’s able to invite them [the US], so I think they did it on their own authority,” Oliver Miles, former UK ambassador to Libya, said. Miles believes the Libyans would oppose “very strongly” any foreign intervention.
Five years after the US-led force toppled Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Libya remains in a power vacuum, which dragged the country into a civil war and let terror groups gain a foothold in the region.
There is a glimpse of hope for improvement and stability as the unity government, consisting of 13 ministers and five ministers of state, was formed Sunday and is currently expecting Libya's eastern parliament’s approval.
The State Department “disagrees” that the US’s devastating intervention in Libya in 2011 has been a reason for its current involvement in Libya.
“We’re very clear-eyed in our assessment that when we see ISIL take these kinds of actions, we need to be able to strike at them,” Toner said, stressing that it is not “second intervention.”
In the meantime, the Pentagon has announced that “will go after ISIL whenever it is necessary, using the full range of tools at our disposal.”