TRIPOLI: A US air strike killed a suspected Daesh militant in Libya on Tuesday, the US Africa Command said. The strike into the northwestern town of Bani Walid was carried out in coordination with the UN-backed government based in Tripoli, it said in a statement quoted by Reuters. It did not name what it called an “Daesh-Libya terrorist” but residents identified him as Walid Bu Hariba who hails from the central city of Sirte where Daesh had its main base in the anarchic North African country until 2016. Residents had earlier reported an air strike on a car in Bani Walid in which a Daesh militant had been traveling. Photos on social media showed a white pick-up truck purportedly hit by a projectile. Some militants have sought to regroup in Libya’s vast desert and in towns such as Bani Walid, located some 150 km (93 miles) south of the capital Tripoli. In June, the United States said it had conducted two precision air strikes near Bani Walid, killing four Daesh militants and an Al-Qaeda fighter. The United States gave air support to Libyan forces that drove Daesh from Sirte in 2016, and has continued to launch occasional strikes on suspected militants in Libya since the end of that campaign.
Meanwhile, deadly clashes in Libya’s capital this week underscore the huge challenges of holding planned elections later this year in the chaos-hit North African country, analysts quoted by AFP said. While a battle raged in Tripoli on Monday between rival militias, French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his determination to see Libyans head to the polls. He was behind a May meeting in Paris at which four Libyan leaders agreed to prepare the country for elections at the end of the year, despite ongoing instability. Since the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) was installed in Tripoli in March 2016, led by Fayez Al-Sarraj, it has failed to impose its authority across the whole country. The GNA is confronted with a hostile parliament elected in 2014 and based in the eastern city of Tobruk, as well as opposition from military strongman Khalifa Haftar whose self-styled Libyan National Army dominates the country’s east. Despite all three leaders being present in Paris, along with Khalid Al-Mishri, head of the High Council of State in Tripoli, other influential Libyan actors were notably absent.