U.S. Africa Command said Thursday that there have been nine U.S. bombing missions over three days in the new Operation Odyssey Lightning in support of the Libyan Government of National Accord.
The latest strike on Wednesday hit a pickup truck carrying a recoilless rifle in the port city of Sirte, which GNA forces have been trying to take back from fighters affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria since May, AFRICOM said in a statement.
On Tuesday, U.S. manned and unmanned aircraft targeted one rocket launcher, an excavator and a pickup truck with a recoilless rifle. The first strikes on Monday hit a Soviet-era T-72 tank, a T-55 tank, two military support vehicles, an enemy fighting position and two pieces of heavy engineering equipment, AFRICOM said.
Pentagon officials have declined to say where the strikes originated from, but the missions reportedly were carried out by Marine Harrier jump jets flying off the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp off the coast in Libya's Gulf of Sidra and by drones equipped with Hellfire missiles flying out of a U.S. base in Jordan.
In announcing the first strikes Monday, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the airstrikes backing the GNA were expected to be of short duration and limited to assisting local forces in retaking Sirte.
The opening of the new front against ISIS in Libya, and the involvement of the U.S. in yet another Mideast civil war, was expected to be at the top of the agenda in closed meetings Thursday at the Pentagon with President Obama and his national security team on the overall progress of the war against ISIS. Obama was to hold a rare Pentagon news conference following the meetings.
In giving air support to the GNA, which has been endorsed by the United Nations as the legitimate government, the U.S. was stepping into a three-sided civil war that has raged off and on since the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi was killed in 2011 in the Arab Spring uprisings.
The GNA, based in Tripoli and led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, is opposed by the Islamist-dominated Government of National Salvation, also based in Tripoli, and by a rival parliament based in Tobruk near the Egyptian border.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.