Egypt launches air strikes against IS militants in Libya

Ahram Online , Monday 16 Feb 2015

Air strikes come hours after the Islamic State militants in Libya aired graphic videos of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts

In this image made from video broadcast on Egyptian state television on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015, a fighter jet leaves the hangar in preparation to launch airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya (Photo: State TV)

The Egyptian army announced in a statement on Monday morning it has conducted air strikes against Islamic State militants' targets in Libya, including training camps and arms depots.

On Sunday night, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said Egypt reserves the right to retaliate against the killing of 21 Egyptian Copts by the radical Islamic State (IS) group in Libya at the suitable time and place.

Islamic State militants had published earlier on Sunday a graphic video on the Internet  purportedly showing the beheading of Coptic Christians it said it had kidnapped recently, and vowing to fight what it described as "crusaders."

The statement said the airstrikes were successful in reaching their targets and that the Egyptian fighter jets returned safely to their home bases in Egypt.

Egyptian state television aired footage of jets taking off from bases in Egypt at the begining of the operation.

"We believe that avenging the blood of Egyptian, and extracting retribution from the killers and criminals is a duty we have to carry out," the army statement said.

Libya’s Air Force Chief of Staff Saqr Al-Geroushi told Al-Arabiya TV Channel on Monday morning that the Egyptian air strikes took place in coordination with the Libyan Army.

“Our planes joined in the attack on the terrorist hideouts...and Egypt and Libya’s war is one and the same,” Al-Geroushi added.

In another interview, Al-Geroushi told Egyptian TV channel Al-Nahar that the Egyptian air strikes succeeded in destroying a training camp, weaponry, and a house that contained anti-aircraft missiles belonging to the Islamic State.

He called on Egypt to continue its offensive along with the Libyan Army until Libya is free.

In a televised speech on Sunday night, El-Sisi said he ordered the Egyptian government to provide full support to the families of the victims, and tighten a ban Egyptians' travel to its western neighbor.
He also said he issued directives to the government to take necessary steps in order to secure and facilitate the return of Egyptians trying to leave Libya.
El-Sisi added he commissioned Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri to travel to New York in order to hold talks with senior United Nations officials and members of the Security Council.
The minister, El-Sisi said, would "demand the international community live up to its responsibilities by taking necessary actions in line with the UN convention, and to declare that what is happening in Libya threatens international peace and security."
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