PENTAGON – The U.S. military says there are fewer than 150 Islamic State fighters left in Libya.
In an exclusive interview Friday with VOA, Africa Command Director of Public Affairs Col. Chris Karns said four U.S. airstrikes this year had killed 43 of the terror groups’ fighters in Libya, where Islamic State forces had been gathering in camps and recruiting new fighters.
“We wanted to make sure that threat did not grow,” Karns said, adding that the U.S. would “continue to monitor the situation” to prevent Libya from gaining a safe haven and taking advantage of a “difficult situation.”
He also said the new Air Force base in Agadez, Niger, was expected to start operations later this year, with U.S. aircraft already landing on the base.
“We’re still waiting for a technical agreement to be signed by the government of Niger. We expect that flying operations will occur this year,” Karns said.
He also spoke about competition with Russia and China on the continent, pointing out that Russia and China are Africa’s top arms exporters.
“That is something that should concern Americans,” he told VOA. “If we do not continue to develop partnerships on the African continent and China and Russia continue on their growth trajectory, they could exercise the influence to deny us access to key areas in the future.” Read more…