US military drone disappears over Libyan capital, officials say

The U.S. military announced Friday it lost an unarmed drone over Tripoli, the Libyan capital -- the site of a months-long battle between the Libyan National Army and militias allied with the United Nations-supported government.

The U.S. Africa Command said the remotely piloted aircraft was part of an operation conducted in Libya to assess the area's security and monitor for violent extremist activity. They didn't give a reason for the drone loss on Thursday, but the command will be investigating.

"These operations are critical to counter-terror activity in Libya and are fully coordinated with appropriate government officials," according to a statement.

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Since 2015, Libya has been divided between two governments, one based in Tripoli and the other in the country’s east. Forces loyal to the eastern government have been trying to wrest control of the capital since April.

An Italian drone was shot down Wednesday southeast of Tripoli by forces loyal to the eastern government.

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In September, the U.S. military said it carried out several airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Libya, killing more than 40 militants. Those were the first U.S. strikes in the North African country in over a year.

Oil-rich Libya descended into chaos in 2011 when an international military coalition helped rebels overthrow longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi. Islamic extremists have exploited the chaos to expand their reach in the country.

The Associated Press contributed to the report