US flip flops on statement about Egypt, UAE role in Libya air strikes

Ayat Al-Tawy, Friday 29 Aug 2014

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says information she obtained days ago about the matter was 'inaccurate'

State Department
US State Department Deputy Spokesperson speaking to a press briefing at the State Department, August 19, 2014, Washington, DC (Photo: US State Department video)

The US State Department has backtracked on earlier claims that Egypt and the UAE carried out air raids on militia-allied Islamist targets in conflict-hit Libya.

Two days ago, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washignton was aware of "air strikes undertaken in recent days by the UAE and Egypt" in Libya.

But on Thursday she told a regular press briefing that such information was imprecise.

"I had inaccurate information just two days ago, I believe, when I spoke to this," she told reporters in Washington.

"My comments were intended to refer to countries that have been reportedly involved and not to speak to whether they were involved or their kind of involvement," Psaki added, without giving details.

"So I would point you to any of the countries that have been reportedly involved and speak to them about what they’d like to say."

The Pentagon also said the two Mideast countries were believed to be responsible for the recent series of bombing raids in Libya's capital, Tripoli, but had no recent comments on the matter.

Egypt has repeatedly denied it had a hand in the raids, and the UAE remained largely silent, giving no direct comments on the allegations.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said reiterated on Thursday that his country had no role in the bombing raids.

"Despite Egypt being one of the most harmed parties  from the deteriorating political and security situation in Libya, it is committed to non-interference in internal Libyan affairs," El-Sisi said during a meeting with a congressional delegation visiting Cairo. 

The role of Egypt and the UAE in the raids against Islamist-linked militia positions in Tripoli was first reported by The New York Times and Islamist militias in Libya.

The first airstrikes occurred almost ten days ago targeting positions in Tripoli held by the militias, and a second round took place on Saturday in the southern part of the capital.

The bombing runs appeared to have attempted to hamper the seizure of Tripoli airport, but militia forces eventually reigned and captured it from nationalist fighters who have held it since the 2011 toppling of dictator Muammar Gadaffi

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