Pentagon says US forces assessing DAESH expansion in Libya

Pentagon spokesman says US forces are assessing expansion of DAESH war into Libya

Photo by: AA (Archive)
Photo by: AA (Archive)

Pentagon spokesman, Peter Cook, says expansion of DAESH in the Middle East and North Africa was discussed in meetings in Paris and Brussels.

Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook said on Wednesday that US forces in Libya were trying to contact local forces in an attempt to assess DAESH-related activity in the war-torn country.

“I'm not going to tell you exactly what the disposition of our forces there. 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,” said Cook.

Cook also said that the expansion of DAESH in the Middle East and North Africa was discussed in meetings at Paris and Brussels with defense ministers from countries that are part of a coalition formed to fight the terrorist group.

Coalition members “are extremely worried about the metastasis of ISIL [DEASH] to other locations, Libya being just one of those locations,” Cook said.

“We're going to consider all of our options going forward,” he added.

Libya has been in chaos since a deadly uprising ended the rule of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Sharp political divisions in the country have yielded two rival seats of government, each with its own institutions and military capacity.

On Monday, Libya's Tobruk-based parliament voted to reject a UN-backed unity government, lawmakers said, in a major blow to international efforts to end unrest in the country.

A national unity government, headed by businessman, Fayez al Sarraj, and comprising of 32 ministers was formed last week, but the rival House of Representatives in Tobruk needs to approve it for it to start working.

Terrorist and militant organisations established a foothold in the country by taking advantage of the chaos.

Libya’s Sirte and Darnah Provinces reportedly represent DAESH’s two main strongholds.

Cook also declared that Lt. Gen. John Nicholson was named to succeed Gen. John Campbell as the top American commander in Afghanistan.

Nicholson is currently commander of NATO’s Allied Land Command in Turkey. His nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

Campbell, who has led forces in Afghanistan since 2014, is expected to retire, according to Cook.

The shift came amid high-profile US setbacks in Afghanistan as well as gains by the Taliban militant group.

Earlier this month, a US service member was killed during a Taliban offensive in Hemland Province.

In October, US jets mistakenly bombed a Doctor’s Without Borders’ trauma centre in Kunduz, killing 22 people, including patients and staff.

TRTWorld and agencies