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Libya’s UN-Backed Government Condemns Egypt’s Airstrikes

ISIS IN ACTION
According to local sources, on 24 May militias clashed with ISIS fighters near Bani Walid. Four ISIS fighters were killed. ISIS fighters are still active in the area after dispersing into the desert south-west of Sirte following their defeat at the hands of the Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus forces last year. Locals report that these ISIS cells are surviving by raiding trucks and ambushing travelers in this area. They reportedly have encampments in locations near Abu Grien, Jufra and al-Shuwerif. Three weeks ago, ISIS fighters killed two members of the large Misratan 13th Battalion (formerly Third Force) and injured three in an ambush between Jufra and Sirte.

In Tripoli, the Government of National Accord (GNA) – aligned RADA Special Forces arrested the brother and father of Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi. RADA said that Hashem Abedi, the 20-year-old brother of the alleged bomber, had been under observation for over a month and issued a statement saying that Hashem had confessed that both he and his brother Salman were members of ISIS. Hasham allegedly also admitted that he had known the details of the Manchester bombing and had been planning to assassinate the UN Special Envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler. Ramadan Abedi, the father, who is alleged to have been a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, was also seized.

Result of Egyptian airstrike in Derna.
Credit: Facebook QnatAljamahiriya

WESTERN RESPONSE
On 26 May, Egypt conducted six airstrikes against targets in Derna, supposedly in retaliation for the massacre of 28 Coptic Christians in Egypt’s Minya province the same day. The attack was claimed by ISIS. Further airstrikes were launched on 29 May. Targets included the city’s power station and the electricity distribution network. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said the air strikes in Derna had targeted fighters responsible for plotting the Minya attack, and that Egypt would not hesitate to carry out additional strikes inside and outside the country. However, Derna is controlled by the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) which fought against ISIS. ISIS was driven out of Derna two years ago.

On 28 May, the spokesperson for Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) Colonel Ahmed Mesmari said that the LNA was coordinating with Egypt’s military over the air strikes. The Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) praised the Egyptian airstrikes on Derna, while the Government of National Accord (GNA) condemned them as a gross violation of Libya’ sovereignty. During a press conference in Cairo on 29 May, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said jihadist training camps in Libya were a huge threat to Egypt and that Egypt had targeted the bases of these organizations in full coordination with the LNA. The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was also at the press conference.

On 27 May, the Egyptian air force and the LNA also conducted joint airstrikes on Jufra, bombing positions held by the Misratan Third Force and local militias allied with Benghazi Defence Brigade (BDB). The LNA’s air force said that the strikes targeted Jufra airbase and an ammunition store in Hun. Local officials in Hun said the strikes had also cut electricity to a number of neighbourhoods and had destroyed a number of civilian, non-military buildings.

Libya-Analysis is the most read independent English-language blog on Libyan affairs. It is run by Jason Pack, founder of EyeOnISISinLibya.com and researcher of World History at Cambridge University

This article was used with explicit permission from the author.