The Egyptian Air-Force, equipped with American made F-16 fighter-bomber jets, has launched a series of early-morning strikes against the Islamic State after the group released video footage of brutal executions of captured Egyptian citizens.
The 21 executed men, workers who were captured by Islamic State forces in Eastern Libya over the past couple of months were all Coptic Christians and were shown kneeling on a beach before being beheaded with combat knives. The procession and killings were highly redolent of the execution videos featuring British murderer and terrorist propagandist ‘Jihadi John’ released last year.
Egypt targeted Islamic State held-positions in Libya, where the city of Derna has fallen into the hands of the Islamist terrorist group. The strikes have been backed by the rump Libyan government, which is defending its territorial integrity against a number of claimants, including militants loyal to the Islamic State and other Islamist factions which have emerged in the fallout from the 2011 Libyan civil war.
Defending the strikes against the Islamic State positions in Eastern Libya, the Egyptian president insisted the nation had the “right to respond” to the killings. A senior Egyptian officer said the war-planes had targeted weapon dumps and training facilities held by ISIS. The spokesman said: “Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them”.
The strikes are part of a concerted campaign against the nascent Islamic State, which have been subject of competing claims of effectiveness, with militaries including the Royal Jordanian Air Force claiming decisive strikes and victories, seriously degrading the Islamic State’s military power. The self-proclaimed Caliphate has hit back at these claims, releasing propaganda videos insisting that while the West is bombing ISIS-held cities, life goes on as normal.
Egypt is due to upgrade its air force over the coming years, as despite a long-standing defence relationship with the United States it has just signed a multi-billion dollar deal with France to support next-generation Rafale fighter-bomber jets. Egypt formerly received $1.3 billion in military aid a year from the United States, reports theLocal.fr, a deal that was curbed after a period of political violence following the Egyptian civil war.