Contradicting Prior Claims, Pentagon Admits US Forces on the Ground in Libya

by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

Common Dreams | 11 August, 2016

The Pentagon confirmed this week that U.S. forces are indeed on the ground in Libya as the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) continues.

A “small number of U.S. forces have gone in and out of Libya to exchange information with these local forces in established joint operations centers, and they will continue to do so as we strengthen the fight against [ISIS] and other terrorist organizations,” Deputy Defense press secretary Gordon Trowbridge said Wednesday.

The news comes just days after the U.S. launched new airstrikes in Libya, centering largely around the strategic port city of Sirte, on August 1. At the time, defense officials claimed there were no troops on the ground supporting the bombings.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that “U.S. Special Operations forces are providing direct, on-the-ground support for the first time to fighters battling the Islamic State in Libya,” quoting U.S. and Libyan officials.

Although Trowbridge denied those reports on Wednesday, he clarified that the forces “are not on the front lines,” but instead providing “unique capabilities” such as “intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and precision strikes.”

Meanwhile, civilians reportedly remain skeptical that the presence of foreign troops will help at all. The Tripoli Post reports:

Observers in and outside Libya remain pessimistic as to the American direct military intervention in Libya which they believe will only deepen instability and brings more violence to the country.

They cite the ongoing destruction, killing and instability that foreign intervention has brought to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

And as Win Without War noted on Twitter, quite simply, “There is no war authorization for this.”

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