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Pentagon: No US Boots on the Ground in Libya Amid Anti-Daesh Airstrikes

© Flickr / U.S. Department of DefenseUS fighter jets
US fighter jets - Sputnik International
The Pentagon said there were no US troops on the ground in Libya following Washington's airstrikes on Daesh in the country.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — There are no US troops on the ground in Libya amid US military airstrikes against Daesh near the city of Sirte, US Department of Defense press secretary Peter Cook said during a briefing on Monday.

"We have close coordination with the GNA [Libyan Government of National Accord] but there are no US boots on the ground," Cook told reporters.

Precison airstrikes by US forces in Libya are focused on destroying armored vehicles such as tanks, Cook said on Monday.

"I can say today that the US struck a tank in Sirte, Libya at the request of the Government of National Accord in Libya," Cook said.

Cook added that besides the tank, the US airstrikes also hit two armored vehicles.

"These vehicles and the ISIL [Daesh] fighters there posed a threat to [GNA] forces on the ground trying to recapture a neighborhood there," Cook explained.

President Barack Obama approved the airstrikes in Libya.

Libya has been in a state of civil unrest since May 2014. The United Nations helped to bring about a ceasefire in late 2015. On March 31, the UN-backed Government of National Accord took office in Tripoli.

Daesh, which is outlawed in the United States, Russia and many other nations, gained a presence in Libya in the years since leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011.

"[The] extent of our support right now is these airstrikes," Cook stated when asked if the United States provides the local forces with any lethal or non-lethal supplies.

The United States will continue carrying out precision airstrikes in Libya upon request from the local Government of National Accord  and will vet the government’s targets, Cook said.

"The specific targets will be precision targets," Cook stated, noting that the Pentagon will vet Daesh targets prior to carrying out airstrikes on request of the GNA.

“It is hard to gauge ISIL [Daesh] numbers anywhere, but I have seen that number, at least our assessment is, that it has been reduced. That number may be closer to about 1,000 now,” Cook said of the Daesh fighters in Sirte.

Earlier Pentagon reports estimated approximately 6,000 Daesh fighters in Libya, largely centered in the coastal city of Sirte. Cook noted that the number has declined.

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