Al-Baghdadi might be dead, but the fight against ISIS is not. In the past weeks, the U.S. has been conducting a number of airstrikes in Libya that are greatly diminishing the manpower and resources of the local ISIS branch.
U.S. airstrikes in the country have killed close to 50 ISIS fighters, forcing others to hide in their desert hideouts.
According to a senior Pentagon official, who spoke to the Army Times, the Department of Defence can assess that the airstrikes have resulted in “a pretty significant degradation of their [ISIS‘] capabilities and, again, they struggle to reconstitute because of the nature of the operatives who were killed in this strike and the fact that they have already been struggling with manpower. We certainly don’t assess that they’re expanding.”
ISIS in Libya lost much of its power when it was evicted from the coastal town of Sirte. But, their small numbers and lack of effective operating bases notwithstanding, ISIS has been expanding in Africa.
Delta Force might have eliminated the leader of ISIS, but the terrorist organization’s tentacles are far-reaching. ISIS is more of an ideology rather than a cohesive group. Jihadist groups the world around have been inspired by its perverse ideology and utilized it to garner support or attention. There are, for example, ISIS franchises in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, West Africa, Greater Sahara, the Sinai Peninsula, the Philippines, and the list goes on. Indeed, it seems that wherever there is an Islamic insurgency, ISIS has a local shop.
Almost ten years after the events that topped Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the perdurable Libyan dictator, the country is still ravaged by civil strife. On the one hand, there is the Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been recognized by the United Nations, and on the other the Libyan National Army (LNA), which is led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter.
The U.S., meanwhile, is trying to find a working solution between the two parties. But the battlefield is riddled with challenges since America isn’t the only interested party in the country. Russia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are strong players in Libya. Turkey supports the GNA, while Russia and the UAE the LNA (Russia less overtly than the UAE).
Field Marshal Hifter, is worth pointing out, was a CIA asset during Colonel’s Gaddafi’s reign until he was exiled and settled in the States (he became an American citizen).