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Sixty-four ISIL militants killed in Egypt strikes in Libya

17 February 2015 9:47

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Egypt’s airstrikes against ISIL Takfiri militants’ positions in Libya have killed 64 members of the terrorist group, officials say.

Citing a Libyan military spokesman, Egyptian state-run news service Al-Ahram, released the figure on Monday, noting that three ISIL leaders were among the dead in the coastal cities of Derna and Sirte.

Egyptian warplanes targeted the ISIL positions in neighboring Libya and destroyed the extremist group’s training camps and weapons depots after a gruesome video emerged online showing the execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by the terrorists.

The victims were reportedly abducted in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte in two attacks in January and December last year.

According to witnesses, at least seven air raids were carried out in Derna, which is a hotspot of militancy since the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Following the release of the video, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi appeared on national television and vowed revenge for the murder of the Coptic Christians.

“Egypt reserves the right to respond in a suitable way and time to punish these murderers,” Sisi said.

In an attempt to push for an international military intervention in Libya, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry also said that leaving “the situation as it is in Libya without a firm intervention to curtail these terrorist organizations would be a threat to international peace and security.”

National and international condemnations

Egypt’s Al-Azhar University censured ISIL’s “barbaric” killing of the Egyptian Christians while Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox church said it is “confident” that those who killed the Egyptian Copts in Libya will be punished.

The United States, UK, and France also decried the beheadings with President Francois Hollande agreeing with Sisi that the UN Security Council “meet and that the international community take new measures to face up to this danger.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the killings, described by the Security Council as “heinous and cowardly” act.

Libya’s parliament also expressed condolences to Egypt over the incident.

Egypt fight with militants

Cairo has already been engaged in fighting with the militants in the restive Sinai Peninsula where scores of troops have been killed in militant assaults.

Egyptian citizens and installations in Libya have also come under frequent attacks by militants over past months of deepening turmoil.

The North African country on Monday signed an agreement to buy 24 Dassault Aviation’s multi-role Rafale fighter jets from France as well as a frigate and munitions.

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