The Islamic State terrorist group has doubled its number of militants in Libya in the last year, according to the top U.S. military commander in the region.
Over the last 12 to 18 months, the number of Islamic State fighters in Libya shot to between 4,000 and 6,000, Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez said at a Pentagon briefing Thursday, The Hill reported.
Gen. Rodriguez said most of the fighters are coming to Libya from northern Africa, Iraq and Syria, and some militants that were already in Libya have switched allegiance to support the Sunni jihadists.
Just like the main body of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Libya branch seeks to launch attacks against western targets, including the U.S., Gen. Rodriguez said.
“That’s been their aspirations all the time, and they are continuing with the same threats that ISIS main is making,” he said, according to The Hill.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration maintains that it will defeat the terrorist group, including its new branches outside of Iraq and Syria.
The U.S. conducted an airstrike in February on an Islamic State training camp, and another airstrike in November killed the senior Islamic State leader in Libya.