Pentagon can't confirm strike killed al-Qaeda leader

US on Monday delivered an upbeat initial assessment of a U.S. air strike in Libya against veteran Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar but not ready to declare his dead

Pentagon can't confirm strike killed al-Qaeda leader

World Bulletin / News Desk 

The Defense Department said Monday that it is still investigating whether an airstrike in Libya killed the leader of a group associated with al-Qaeda.

“Initial assessments are that it (airstrike) was successful," Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters. “But we’re not prepared to confirm that, because we haven’t finalized our assessment.”

According to Warren, two F-15s dropped multiple 500-pound bombs on a building in Ajdabiya, Libya, on Saturday that targeted Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the 43-year-old Algerian leader of the al-Murabitoun organization in northwest Africa.

Belmokhtar was a senior leader with Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) until 2013 when he left the group, but Warren said that although he was not a part of AQIM he maintained a personal allegiance to al-Qaeda.

Warren added that the strike against Belmokhtar was within the legal boundaries of the U.S. Authorization For Military Force, as al-Murabitoun also maintains an allegiance to al Qaeda.

The Authorization For Military Force legislation in 2001 followed the 9/11 attacks and gives the president authority to conduct military operations against al-Qaeda and affiliated groups across the globe.

It is still unclear who may have been with Belmokhtar during the strike that was coordinated with the Libyan government and the U.S.

Belmokhtar directed attacks in In-Amenas, Algeria, in 2013 that killed at least 38 individuals from 10 countries, including three Americans, according to the Pentagon.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Haziran 2015, 09:51