Jan. 19 (UPI) -- American B-2 bombers killed at least 85 Islamic State militants in Libya after dropping 108 precision-guided bombs in several locations, U.S. defense officials said.
The stealth bombers targeted at least one Islamic State training camp on Wednesday. The bombings, authorized by President Barack Obama, occurred in the desert outside of Sirte. U.S. drones launched hellfire missiles at escaping Islamic State militants.
By striking outside of Sirte, the White House widened the area in which the U.S. military can operate in Libya to combat Islamic State forces, The Wall Street Journal reported. Last month, Libya's United Nations-backed Government of National Accord said it drove the militant Islamist group out of Sirte, though some escaped to outlying areas.
The B-2 bombers took off from their permanent base in Missouri, carried out the bombing operation and flew back home -- refueling five times without landing.
The decision to use the nuclear-capable B-2s instead of other fighter jets stationed in England was made to "send a strategic message" to Russia and China, a source told Fox News.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, took Sirte, the former hometown of deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi, in March 2015 as it collected territory across the Middle East in Libya, Iraq and Syria.
The United States has carried out about 500 airstrikes in Sirte since August, targeting Islamic State militants.