- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Obama administration has reportedly turned down a U.S. military plan to strike the Islamic State terrorist group’s growing hub in Libya.

The Pentagon has been pushing for more airstrikes and the deployment of elite troops in the region to combat the militant’s growing presence there, particularly in the city of Sirte, the hometown of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, which is now under the Islamic State’s control.

In recent weeks military officials had been planning an assault on the city involving airstrikes that would target the militant’s resources and a small band of Special Operations Forces that would train Libyans to become members of a national army, officials told The Daily Beast.

But those plans have now been put on hold, military officials said.

“There is little to no appetite for that in this administration,” one defense official told the Daily Beast.

The U.S. will continue to conduct occasional strikes targeting high-profile Islamic State leaders in Libya. One such strike in November killed Abu Nabil al-Anbari, the then-leader of the extremist group in the region.

“There’s nothing close to happening in terms of a major military operation,” a second official told The Daily Beast.

The U.S. military estimates that there are roughly 5,000 Islamic State fighters in Libya, a spike from 1,000 estimated to be in the region just a few months ago. Defense officials attribute this spike to new recruits opting to travel to Libya over Iraq and Syria, which have become increasingly difficult to reach.

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