The U.S. has deployed attack helicopters to Libya to help fight ISIS militants and they were used against the terrorist group's positions in the coastal city of Sirte last weekend, according to Military Times.
Piloted by U.S. Marines, AH-1W Cobra helicopters provided close-air support to friendly ground-based militias and the U.S. Africa Command reported they destroyed 25 Islamic State positions and two supply trucks.
The ongoing Operation Odyssey Lightning began Aug. 1 and is assisting the fragile Libyan government, known as the Libyan Government of National Accord, that grew from the country's two-year-old civil war.
The operation has now attacked at least 74 ISIS positions and most of the missions have been made by unmanned aircraft and Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers deployed aboard the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship in the Mediterranean, said Agence France-Presse.
"The U.S. stands with the international community in supporting the GNA as it strives to restore stability and security to Libya," said the U.S. Africa Command. "These actions, and those we have taken previously, will help deny Daesh (ISIS) a safe haven in Libya from which it could attack the United States and our allies."
The Military Times said the weekend airstrikes were the most significant military action conducted by the U.S. in the country since leading an air campaign in 2011 that helped oust late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
"The Cobras provide additional precision air strike capability," spokesman Lt. Commander Anthony Falvo told AFP. "It gives us a little bit more flexibility."
Falvo declined to say how long the U.S. air support would continue but the Pentagon had said it would be involved in Sirte for "weeks not months," according to AFP.
"We will continue our support for as long as it is requested," Falvo told AFP. "If they were to tell us tomorrow they don't need our support any more, we would end our support at that point."
The Military Times said ISIS had set up an operations base in Sirte in 2015 and had an estimated 6,000 fighters located there. Over the past several weeks, local news reports have said, the militant group has lost most of the city.
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