Egypt’s military said in a statement aired on television on Monday that it has bombed Islamic State targets in Libya just hours after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for a meeting of Egypt’s top national security body in response to a released Islamic State video on Sunday showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians that were kidnapped from Sirte, Libya.
The statement explained that Egyptian warplanes targeted weapons cashes and training camps in Libya before returning home safely.
“Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them” the statement said.
It is believed that the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Copts were carried out by an affiliate of Islamic State operating in the region.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said previously that Islamic State fighters in Libya are security threat to Egypt and the entire region.
Thus far the Egyptian air force has not participated in the U.S. led coalition of airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria although several of Egypt’s Arab neighbors have cooperated in the air campaigns.
Security of State John Kerry released a statement condemning the mass killings in Libya.
“U.S. condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of 21 Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists” Kerry said.
The White House also released a statement that echoed a similar message while emphasizing the need for a political resolution to the conflict in Libya.
Here is the WH statement:
The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and our support to the Egyptian government and people as they grieve for their fellow citizens. ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect, or ethnicity. This wanton killing of innocents is just the most recent of the many vicious acts perpetrated by ISIL-affiliated terrorists against the people of the region, including the murders of dozens of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, which only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL.
This heinous act once again underscores the urgent need for a political resolution to the conflict in Libya, the continuation of which only benefits terrorist groups, including ISIL. We call on all Libyans to strongly reject this and all acts of terrorism and to unite in the face of this shared and growing threat. We continue to strongly support the efforts of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernardino Leon to facilitate formation of a national unity government and help foster a political solution in Libya