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article imageU.S. air attacks on ISIS in Sirte Libya appear to have ended

By Ken Hanly     Nov 7, 2016 in World
Surt - Fox News reports that several U.S. officials claim that after three months of strikes on Islamic State positions in Sirte designed to help the offensive by Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous (Solid Structure or BAM) the operation has ended.
Operation Odyssey Lightning began on August 1. When originally announced the operation was only to last for a few weeks. It has been extended every thirty days since then through September and October but there appears to be no extension into November. The Islamic State (IS) is now confined to a small area of Sirte along the Mediterranean and there are very few IS fighters left. However, they continue a fierce resistance. U.S. officials told Fox News that they were consulting with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) and did not rule out further strikes in the future. One senior defense official said that there were fewer targets available now without the risk of civilian casualties.
Since the operation began Aug. 1, 367 airstrikes have been carried out. A recent tweet shows a graph of the strikes: "Graphs showing 3 months of Odyssey Lightning OP in #Sirte. 737 ISIS fighters, 38 SVBIED, 36 supply vehicles / positions, targeted since Aug1" No airstrikes have taken place since the end of August.
Apparently new orders from U.S. Africa Command on November 1 are to "end offensive and self-defense strikes" against the IS in Sirte. However, a U.S. official claimed that President Obama can authorize additional strikes going forward on targets of interest. The Sirte Operation has been carried out unilaterally but at the request of the GNA. The U.S. has carried out two other separate airstrikes in Libya since 2015.
While the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, conducted operations involving Harrier Jets and Cobra attack helicopters a majority of the strikes were actually by drones from bases in the region. The Wasp was replaced by the USS San Antonio recently which cannot launch Harrier jets. The U.S. also has a few special forces on the ground helping out in the offensive against Sirte along with some from the U.K.
Meanwhile, ground operations by BAM continue against the IS remnants now confined to just one small district. As they advance they have been able to free some civilians from the IS. On Sunday BAM forces freed 14 civilians from the small Ghiza Bahriya area where IS continues to resist. The forces are advancing slowly and cautiously in an effort to limit civilian casualties. Several groups of civilians have been able to escape or been rescued lately. Some are migrant women and children kidnapped by the IS as they tried to make their way to Europe. Rida Issa, a spokesperson for the BAM forces, mostly from the city of Misrata, said there was no advance on Sunday but on Saturday there were small gains after heavy tank and artillery fire against IS positions.
On Saturday the Misrata Central Hospital reported two BAM fighters were killed and 22 more wounded in clashes with IS fighters. Only ten of those injured needed to stay in the hospital.
UPDATE: According to an article in the Military TImes the operation has been extended. There has been no official announcement and no news as to how long and when extension was authorized. Up until now there have been no further attacks.
More about Operation Odyssey Lightning, Sirte offensive, AlBunyan AlMarsous
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