There was further drama this week when US forces launched airstrikes against a militant base south of Ajdabiyya. The attack on 14 June was meant to target Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the Algerian militant and alleged mastermind of the In Amenas gas plant attack in January 2013. There is much speculation about whether Belmokhtar was killed in the attack, all the more so given that his death has been announced by the Algerian authorities some ten times over recent years. Despite the Tubroq government’s asserting that Belmokhtar was killed in the strikes, Washington has yet to confirm his killing. Libyan militant groups, meanwhile, have denied that Belmokhtar was present at the gathering while his own group, Al-Muwakaoun Bildima, has insisted that he is still alive. Either way, the strikes were a blow for the Ajdabiyya Revolutionaries Shura Council, 33 of whom were reportedly killed in the attack.
This is the first time since the NATO-led campaign of 2011 that the US has carried out air strikes inside Libya.