Egypt’s Air Force has hit Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) positions in Derna, Libya, just hours after the extremist group released a grisly video showing the beheading of several Egyptian Coptic Christians it had held hostage for weeks.
Libyan forces loyal to the authorities have also targeted the ISIS in the country, a commander said.
Up to 50 militants have been killed in the airstrikes on Libya, Egyptian state TV reported.
Egypt’s military has issued a televised statement, confirming the dawn strikes and stating that the attacks targeted IS camps, training sites and weapons storage locations in Libya.
The statement said the warplanes targeted weapons caches and training camps before returning safely. It said the “intense strikes” were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers.”
“Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield to protect and safeguard the security of the country and a sword that amputates terrorism and extremism,” it said.
Egypt is already battling a burgeoning Islamist insurgency centred in the strategic Sinai Peninsula, where militants have recently declared their allegiance to ISIS and rely heavily on arms smuggled across the porous desert border between Egypt and Libya.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement, calling “for the international coalition against the Da’esh terrorist organization [Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL] … to take the necessary measures to confront the terrorist Da’esh organization and other similar terrorist organizations on Libyan territories.”
Libya’s air force commander, Saqr al-Joroushi, told Egyptian state TV that the airstrikes were co-ordinated with the Libyan side and that they killed about 50 militants. Separately, A Libyan security official reached by The Associated Press by telephone said the Egyptian warplanes struck four IS positions in the eastern city of Darna, an extremist stronghold that was taken over by an ISIS affiliate last year.
The militants had been holding 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian labourers rounded up from the coastal city of Sirte in December and January. It was not clear from the video whether all 21 hostages were killed.
It was one of the first beheading videos from an ISISI affiliate to come from outside the group’s core territory in Syria and Iraq, and displayed the sophisticated techniques used in previous videos.
Courtesy – IRIA