Egypt has launched a series of airstrikes on the Islamic State (IS ) militants in Libya, in an apparent retaliation of execution of its nationals by the terrorist group.
On 15 February, militants linked to IS posted a video online showing the mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, who were believed to be abducted in the Libyan city of Sirte over the last months.
In a televised statement, the Egyptian military said the strike achieved its targets accurately and the pilots returned to base safely, marking the first time Egypt confirmed bombing the group in neighbouring Libya.
"We affirm that avenging Egyptian blood and retaliating against criminals and killers is a duty we must carry out."
Supported by the Libyan Air Force, the early morning strike reportedly hit IS camps, training facilities, as well as the group’s weapons storage areas inside Libya. The number of casualties currently remains unknown.
Libyan Air Force commander brigadier Saqer al-Joroushi was quoted by Al Arabiya television as saying that Libya had coordinated and joined Egypt in launching airstrikes in the eastern city of Derna.
"More air strikes will be carried out today and tomorrow in coordination with Egypt."
Despite being a part of the US-led anti-IS coalition, Egypt has until now refrained from launching airstrikes against IS, which currently holds large swath of territory in Iraq and Syria.
However after the release of beheading video, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had warned that the country reserved the right to avenge the murders in a way it deemed suitable.
In addition, The Egyptian Government , which is currently battling insurgency at home since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, reportedly announced an offer to facilitate the exit of thousands of Egyptians who had travelled to Libya seeking work.