CAIRO. — The Egyptian army announced in a statement yesterday morning it had conducted air strikes against Islamic State militants’ targets in Libya, including training camps and arms depots.
On Sunday night, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said Egypt reserved the right to retaliate against the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians 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 beginning 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 yesterday morning that the Egyptian air strikes took place in co-ordination 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 neighbour.
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.
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande and his Egyptian counterpart called yesterday for the United Nations Security Council to meet over the security situation in Libya and take new measures after Egypt’s air force bombed Islamic State targets there.
Hollande and Al-Sisi spoke on the telephone a day after the group released a video appearing to show the beheading of 21 Egyptians in Libya, Hollande’s office said in a statement.
“They underscored the importance of the (UN) Security Council meeting and of the international community taking new measures to face up to the danger” of the Islamic State, the statement said. — Ahram Online/Reuters.