As Egypt mourns the death of a group of Egyptian Christian hostages on a beach, shown in a grisly online video released hours earlier, Egyptian warplanes struck ISIS targets in Libya in a swift retribution.
The air strikes were announced by an armed forces spokesman and opens up a new phase in the war against ISIS with Egypt also jumping into the fray.
Extremist groups have taken advantage of the chaos following the ouster of Libyan strongman, Colonel Gaddafi in 2011.
The spokesman said that the “intense strikes” were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers.”
The statement said that the warplanes targeted weapon depots and training camps. All the warplanes returned safely after successfully completing the mission.
The statement further added, “Let those far and near knows that Egyptians have a shield to protect and safeguard the security of the country and a sword that amputates terrorism and extremism.”
Egypt is already fighting a burgeoning Islamic Insurgency in Sinai. The militants in the Sinai region have already avowed their allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The militants in Sinai Peninsula receive arms and material support across the porous desert border between Egypt and Libya.
The strikes happens at a crucial juncture when Egypt is scheduled to host a major donor’s conference at a Sinai resort to attract foreign investment after nearly four years of turmoil following the 2011 uprising.
Saqr al-Joroushi, Libya’s air force commander talking to the Egyptian State TV said that the air strikes were carried out in close cooperation with the Libyan side and said that more than 50 militants were killed. A Libyan Security official told AP by phone that Egyptian warplanes hit four IS positions in the eastern city of Darna. Darna is an extremist stronghold and had fallen to ISIS last year.