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Egypt Intensifies Strikes against ISIS Offshoots in Libya | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A security guard gestures near the site of an attack that killed at least 26 people in Minya, Egypt May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Cairo, Jeddah – Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz phoned Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Saturday reiterating his kingdom’s support to all measurements taken by Egypt’s government to combat terrorism.

Increasingly, Egyptian forces have announced intensifying its attacks against Libya-based ISIS terrorists, with the army claiming success over an operation which destroyed a terrorist encampment.

The targeted enclave presumably had hosted the perpetrators of the Minya terror attack against Christians in Egypt.

Ravaging the whole country, ten gunmen opened fire against a bus transporting Coptic Christians in Minya, southern Egypt, killing 29 and wounding dozens.

Sisi said he had ordered strikes against what he called terrorist camps, declaring in a televised address that states that sponsored terrorism would be punished. He also reassured head of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros and Pope Francis on the state’s commitment to protect all its citizens, including Copts, and to secure their freedom of faith and freedom of worship, “despite some issues that President el-Sisi did say still require sensitive treatment.”

Egyptian military sources said six strikes took place near Derna in eastern Libya at around sundown, hours after the masked gunmen attacked the Copts traveling to a monastery in Minya.

The Egyptian military said the operation was ongoing and had been undertaken once it had been ascertained that the camps had produced the gunmen behind the attack on the Coptic Christians in Minya, southern Egypt, on Friday morning.

“The terrorist incident that took place today will not pass unnoticed,” Sisi said. “We are currently targeting the camps where the terrorists are trained.”

He said Egypt would not hesitate to carry out further strikes against camps that trained people to carry out operations against Egypt, whether those camps were inside or outside the country.

Egyptian military footage of pilots being briefed and war planes taking off was shown on state television.

East Libyan forces said they participated in the air strikes, which had targeted forces linked to al-Qaeda at a number of sites, and would be followed by a ground operation.

A resident in Derna heard four powerful explosions, and told Reuters that the strikes had targeted camps used by fighters belonging to the Majlis al-Shura militant group.

Majlis al-Shura spokesman Mohamed al-Mansouri said in a video posted online that the Egyptian air strikes did not hit any of the group’s camps, but instead hit civilian areas.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the Christians, which followed a series of church bombings claimed by terror group ISIS in a campaign of violence against the Copts.

ISIS supporters reposted videos earlier this year urging violence against the Copts in Egypt.