DESPITE PENTAGON EVASIONS, evidence is mounting that a U.S. airstrike against an ISIS training camp in Libya last month killed two Serbian diplomats who were being held at the site. The Pentagon erroneously believed that no civilians were at the camp at the time of the attack, according to Serbian and Libyan officials interviewed by The Intercept.
The diplomats, who were staffers at the Serbian Embassy in Tripoli, were kidnapped during an attack in early November on a diplomatic convoy near Sabratha, a coastal city 50 miles west of the Libyan capital. Serbia’s ambassador, Oliver Potezica, who was traveling with his wife and two sons in the three-vehicle convoy, escaped unharmed, but Sladjana Stankovic, a 41-year-old communications officer, and Jovica Stepic, a 60-year-old driver, were taken by the attackers.
On February 19, the Pentagon announced it had conducted an airstrike on an ISIS training camp in a farmhouse near Sabratha. The principal target of the attack was Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian national described as a “senior facilitator” for ISIS in Libya and a prime suspect in two deadly attacks in Tunisia last year. The strike, which involved fighter jets and drones, was authorized by President Obama. At the time, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook characterized the attack as “very successful” and made no mention of any civilian casualties.
The day after the attack, Belgrade announced that Stankovic and Stepic had died in the bombing. “Apparently, the Americans were not aware that foreign citizens were being kept there,” Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told reporters.
The Pentagon immediately expressed doubt about his account.