White House says Department of Defense confirms that long-wanted Belmokhtar was target of U.S. strike in Libya. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the Department of Defense confirmed that long-wanted Mokhtar Belmokhtar was the target of a U.S. airstrike in Libya. He said he was not in a position to "confirm the results." U.S. officials have yet to confirm Libyan reports that Belmokhtar was killed in eastern Libya, saying on Monday only that the F-15 jet raid appeared to have succeeded but stopping short of confirming his demise. Doubts were well placed: Belmokhtar, who was in his early 40s, has been reported dead several times only to reappear in jihadist propaganda claiming responsibility for new attacks. What is undisputed is that the raid attested to a Libya sliding deeper into armed anarchy since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi that Western nations fear is creating a jihadist safe haven just across the Mediterranean from Europe. With two rival Libyan governments and their armed factions battling for control, Islamic State and other jihadist groups like Belmokhtar's have exploited the chaos to seek refuge, train and expand their influence in the vast North African country. Libyan military officials said on Monday that up to 17 al Qaeda insurgents had been killed in the air strike while they were meeting near Benghazi, but did not name any.