Washington: The ISIS fighters in Libya that were targeted by US warplanes in an overnight strike posed a threat to the United States as well as its interests in the region, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told a news briefing on Friday.
"We've made clear that we need to confront ISIS wherever it rears its head," Cook said, using an acronym for ISIS.
"They have posed a direct threat to the United States, they have encouraged attacks against the United States and our allies and we're going to continue to confront it to protect our national security," Cook added.
US warplanes carried out strikes targeting militants at a training facility in Libya on Friday. The facility was linked to Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian blamed by his native country for attacks last year on a Tunis museum and the Sousse beach resort, which killed dozens of tourists.
Both manned and unmanned aircraft were involved in the strike, Cook said, declining to specify the type of planes used further. The training facility was in a rural area with some buildings nearby, Cook said, adding that the United States believes there are other similar training camps remaining in Libya.
"When we see opportunities or the need to take this kind of action, we will be prepared to do so," Cook said.
The strike was conducted under the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), Cook said. President Barack Obama has sought a new authorization from Congress that would specifically cover the fight against ISIS.
Cook said the United States has the legal authority to carry out the strikes, but a new authorization would be "helpful" and an indication of support for US troops. Cook thanked Britain for offering its airbases to launch the attack, but declined to say which bases the United States had used.
As many as 60 fighters were being trained at the facility at times, Cook said, adding that a "significant number" of fighters were at the site at the time of the strike....