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US Strikes Al-Qaeda in Libya for 1st Time, Op Expands Beyond Daesh - Reports

© AFP 2021 / SSGT JASON D. BECKSTAND / USMCA picture released by the US Marines shows Marines from 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (3/2) and Iraqi Special Forces patrolling a street in the city of Karabilah, near Iraq's northwestern border with Syria (file)
A picture released by the US Marines shows Marines from 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (3/2) and Iraqi Special Forces patrolling a street in the city of Karabilah, near Iraq's northwestern border with Syria (file) - Sputnik International
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Despite the remaining chaos in the war-torn country, Libya has been ramping up its oil exports over the past year, and is close to dislodging Saudi Arabia as the third-largest exporter of seaborne oil to Europe, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

"The US military has launched its first airstrike against al-Qaida in Libya as operations expand beyond targeting the Islamic State [Daesh] group," Military.com reported on Monday, citing the US Africa Command.

Until recently, the US forces had been conducting counter-terror strikes in Libya almost exclusively against Daesh*. In 2016, the military carried out about 500 airstrikes in the country's coastal city of Sirte over several months to destroy Daesh's stronghold there.

What concerns the US military actions against al-Qaeda, the country has been concentrating its efforts in Iraq. The long-term US offensive against the terror group dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched in Iraq on March 20, 2003 under the pretext of Saddam Hussein's developing weapons of mass destruction and colluding with al-Qaeda. The operation resulted in the ouster of the Iraqi government and was followed by an eight-year-long military occupation of Iraq.

READ MORE: US 2003 Invasion of Iraq Led to Nothing But Chaos and Instability - Observers

There are conflicting reports on Iraq's total losses in the war - from 100,000 to 300,000 people, including civilians. However, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) estimates, between 2003 and 2006 alone 150,000 to 223,000 Iraqis died in military clashes on the ground.

*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.

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