By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Initial estimates show U.S. airstrikes on two Daesh camps in Libya killed more than 80 fighters, the outgoing defense chief said Thursday.
Ashton Carter told reporters at the Pentagon that among those killed were Daesh's external plotters "who were actively planning operations against our allies in Europe.
"These were critically important strikes for our campaign and a clear example of our enduring commitment to destroy ISIL's cancer not only in Iraq and Syria, but everywhere it emerges," Carter said.
Many of those present at the camp had fled Sirte, Daesh's former only major urban foothold in Libya before local forces ousted them from the city last month.
In a rare move, the strikes were carried out using two B-2 bombers that departed from the American midwest on a more than 30-hour mission.
Taking the podium after Carter, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the bombers dropped more than 100 munitions overnight Wednesday on the camps that are about 45 kilometers (28 miles) southwest of Sirte.
Libya has been a hotbed of militant activity since the bloody ouster of strongman Muamar Gadafi in 2011.
Since then, the country’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government -- one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli -- both of which boast a military capacity.
Late last year, Libya’s rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement to establish a unity government in an effort to resolve the country’s ongoing political standoff.