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An Arabic language British newspaper reported earlier this month that U.S. military forces conducted a covert attack on al Qaeda facilities in northern Libya.

A “surprise attack” on al Qaeda bases in the east coast port city of Darnah was carried out by U.S. military forces, according to Al Sharq al Awsat published Aug. 12.

The newspaper quoted Libyan Defense Ministry spokesman Adil al-Barasi, who said the Tripoli government did not give permission to U.S. forces to conduct the bombing raid that may have included an offshore missile strike.

Mr. Al-Barasi said no country has the right to conduct military strikes without permission of the United Nations.

“But surely a state — such as the United States that has a very great experience in dealing with terrorism and third-world armies — would not carry out such actions haphazardly,” he said.

The report quoted eyewitnesses as saying the strike took place Aug. 11 against al Qaeda supply lines in a city long-known as a base for recruiting Islamist fighters.

“Eyewitnesses told conflicting versions of a missile attack from the direction of the sea,” the report said. “They said that Libyan forces moved to that site and were surprised when they saw vehicles burned and completely destroyed there. Meanwhile, conflicting reports indicated that the attack was carried out by a Libyan army plane that targeted a training position belonging to non-Libyan elements. The reports added that at least 20 people were killed as a result.”

Libyan authorities declined to comment on the report. Pentagon spokesmen also had no information on the reported attack.

Since the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has a weak central government and Islamist militias, including al Qaeda-linked groups, have moved into some areas of the North African nation.

President Obama vowed last year to bring to justice the terrorists who attacked the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

However, no action has been taken to date against anyone linked to the attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stephens.