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Dunford Says ISIL in Libya is Weakened

STUTTGART, Germany, July 18, 2016 — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today he is encouraged by developments against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya, a branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

"The trend line for [ISIL] Libya is positive from my perspective," Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said during a joint press conference with Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, after Waldhauser assumed command of U.S. Africa Command.

Dunford said terrorists suffered "significant casualties" in and around Benghazi, with assessments indicating their numbers have been reduced to just a few hundred inside the northern city of Sirte.

"I don't think that there's any doubt that the Islamic State in Libya is weaker than it was some months ago; there's no question about it," he said.

Dunford said whatever actions the United States conducts in Libya, "less those specifically against the threat against the homeland or our interests," are done in conjunction with the interim government there, known as the Government of National Accord.

Fighting in Sirte

Over the last six to eight weeks, the General National Congress, which is aligned with the GNA, has been fighting against Islamic State terrorists in Sirte, Dunford told reporters.

"There has been a significant amount of attrition against [ISIL] Libya in Sirte as a result of those operations," he said.

The general added he is "very encouraged" by the U.N. effort to bring together two security forces, the GNC and the House of Representatives.

"I think probably the most important thing that can happen inside of Libya over the next week or two are the negotiations ongoing to bring those security forces both aligned underneath the GNA,” he said.

Dunford said U.S. diplomats speak with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj on a routine basis.


(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinanadoDoDNews)
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