SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Egypt has launched airstrikes on militants’ positions in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
“This is a battle for Egypt not Libya. Egypt was the first country in the region to warn against terrorism and it is also the first to fight it,” said a senior Egyptian official on Wednesday.
The military operation is launched in response to a request from the Libyan government and will later involve Libyan ground forces in an attempt to take Benghazi back from the militants, added the Egyptian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
According to Egyptian military sources, the country’s operation against militant groups in Libya is expected to last three to six months.
Earlier this month, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi met with Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and declared Cairo’s support for the sovereignty of the Libyan government, which is now based in the northeastern city of Tobruk. Sisi also promised to train the Libyan army and provide it with military and intelligence assistance.
Cairo’s airstrikes on Libyan militants in Benghazi came hours after the Libyan army announced it had thrown its weight behind “Operation Dignity”, a four-month-old campaign by forces loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar to retake Benghazi from rival armed groups.
Libya has plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The ouster of Gaddafi gave rise to a patchwork of heavily-armed militias and deep political divisions.
The North African country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces and rival militia groups that refuse to lay down arms. The groups are now turning their guns on each other in an attempt to dominate politics and the country’s vast oil resources.