Claiming that ISIS controls oil fields in Libya, the presumptive Republican nominee questioned during a rally here why the United States isn’t “bombing the hell out of” ISIS in Libya.
“ISIS has the oil. And then you say if ISIS has the oil, why aren’t we blockading so they can’t sell it? Why aren’t we bombing the hell out of –” Trump said, stopping short as he pivoted to slamming President Barack Obama as “grossly incompetent.”
The U.S. has bombed ISIS in Libya, including a major strike on an ISIS camp back in February. The Pentagon recently acknowledged there is a “concept of operations” for Libya that includes continued airstrikes against ISIS targets when they can be located.
Trump has previously argued in favor of bombing oil fields in ISIS hands in Iraq — where the U.S. already has several thousand troops — but his remarks on Friday mark the first time the de facto Republican nominee has raised the possibility of a U.S. military campaign in another country.
Although Trump has emphasized a foreign policy of “America First” and railed against foreign entanglements, he has repeatedly said the U.S. needs to “knock out” ISIS.
And despite Trump’s claim, ISIS does not control oil fields in Libya, though supply lines have been disrupted by ISIS assaults in the North African country.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump raised the possibility of another U.S. military intervention just as he slammed former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, for arguing in favor of the 2011 NATO bombing campaign that ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
“Her decision to go in — and this was her baby, Libya — was a disaster,” Trump said Friday.
Trump has repeatedly railed against the U.S. decision to strike Libya as part of a multinational campaign, which he has used to question Clinton’s judgment.
But Trump in 2011 also argued in favor of a military intervention in Libya.
“We should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick. We could do it surgically, stop him from doing it, and save these lives,” Trump said in February 2011, a month before NATO launched its military intervention.
By Jeremy Diamond, CNN