By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 4 November 2016:
The US has ended it campaign of air strikes against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Sirte, according to American media company Fox News. It says that it has been told by “multiple” US defence officials that the strikes ended on 31 October. A new order was made on 1 November ending them, Fox News said.
However, it appears that it may be just the use of fighter planes that has stopped. The US navy said on Thursday that in a new move it is now using Super Cobra attack helicopters for close-range, precision strikes against IS.
The helicopter strikes were were launched from the USS San Antonio, based off the Libyan coast.
According to a press release on 1 November from Africom, the US Africa Command hitherto responsible for the Sirte operation, there were 14 strikes on 31 October hitting 28 IS positions, two command and control facilities, two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and an arms store.
They took to 367 the total number of airstrikes in Sirte since the operation began on 1 August.
For most of the three months, the Bunyan Marsous Operations Room carrying out the land operation against IS did not acknowledge the American airstrikes. The only time it did so was a month ago when the spokesman described them as useless, claiming that Misratan airstrikes were far more effective. It may have been significant that he did so on controversial grand mufti Sadek Al-Ghariani’s Tanasah TV station.
Ghariani is not noted as being a fan of the US.
Khalifa Hafter has been none too complementary about the strikes either. In September he said they were illegal.
This week, his spokesman, Colonel Ahmed Mismari, claimed that they had destroyed Sirte and that it was a ghost town as a result. Residents, he added, would not now be able to return until it was rebuilt. Speaking to Cairo newspaper Youm 7, he also claimed that the Bunyan Marsoua forces were unable to finish the job of liberating the town. He suggested they give up and let the Libyan National Army do it.