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U.S. airstrike in Libya kills 41 militants

By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Updated Feb. 19, 2016 at 4:34 PM

SABRATHA , Libya, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- At least 41 people were killed Friday by U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State targets in northwestern Libya, the mayor of a city near a militant camp said.

The attacks came as the Obama administration ponders an increase in airstrikes against IS positions in Libya. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said last week the United States will "keep open the option to do things unilaterally [in Libya]."

The airstrikes hit an encampment of IS recruits in Sabratha, 50 miles west of Tripoli and near Libya's border with Tunisia. Hussain al-Dawadi, Sabratha's mayor, said the bodies of 41 people killed in the attack were brought into his city, adding six more people were injured. The majority of the casualties were Tunisian.

The intended target, Tunisian IS operative Noureddine Chouchane, was likely killed, Pentagon officials said.

US WARPLANES BOMB ISLAMIC STATE TARGET IN LIBYA: More than 40 people were reported killed by US airstrikes on a...

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Chouchane is linked to violent incidents within Tunisia and is suspected of organizing two major attacks, one in March 2015 at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, which killed 22 people, and another at the beach resort city of Sousse in June 2015, in which 38 people, mostly British tourists, died.

The city of Sabratha has been identified as a training camp of Ansar al-Shariah, a Tunisian militant group aligned with al-Qaida, since Seifallah bin Hussein, the group's leaders, fled Tunisia in 2013.

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