Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Egyptian Warplanes Bomb Islamist Militias In Libya

BENGHAZI, Libya — Egypt deepened its involvement in the fight against Islamist militias that have taken over key parts of Libya, with officials saying Wednesday that Egyptian warplanes have bombed militia positions in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The two officials, who have firsthand knowledge of the operation and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the use of the aircraft was part of an Egyptian-led campaign against the militias that will eventually involve Libyan ground troops.

The operation, they said, was requested by the internationally recognized Libyan administration based in the eastern city of Tobruk. That elected administration was driven out of the capital, Tripoli, by rival militias allied with Islamic political factions.

“This is a battle for Egypt, not Libya,” one of the senior officials said. “Egypt was the first country in the region to warn against terrorism, and it is also the first to fight it.”

Renegade Libyan general Khalifa Hifter, who has vowed to wipe out the Islamist militias, is not leading the operation, they added, with Cairo dealing directly with a newly appointed Libyan chief of staff who has visited Egypt several times in recent weeks.