US Warplanes Strike ISIS in Libya
White House agrees to request from new government there
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 1, 2016 1:44 PM CDT
This image from June 2016 shows fighters loyal to the unity government making their way on the main street of Sirte.   (AP Video via AP)

(Newser) – For the moment, the US has extended the fight against the Islamic State to another country—Libya. American warplanes of both the manned and drone variety launched precision airstrikes Monday against ISIS targets in the city of Sirte at the request of the Libyan government, reports Reuters. ISIS captured the coastal city last last year, making it what the news service describes as the group's most important stronghold outside of Iraq and Syria, though it's been steadily losing ground since then. It's not clear how long the US operation will last, but the the Guardian reports that Pentagon officials suggest it will be a "sustained offensive."

The campaign in Sirte marks "a significant expansion" of the US fight against ISIS, observes the Washington Post. President Obama directly approved the new operation, one that does not allow for American ground troops, reports the AP. Most of the civilian population of Sirte has fled over the past year, and several hundred ISIS fighters are estimated to be holed up in the city. They've mainly been fighting against militias from the Libyan city of Misrata who are loyal to the new unity government, reports the Guardian.