Shortly after a gruesome video surfaced appearing to show ISIS-affiliated militants carrying out a mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya, Egypt took action, carrying out a dawn bombing campaign of ISIS camps and weapons stores in Libya. Libyan officials said the aerial bombardment of the militant-held city of Derna, near the Egyptian border, was carried out in coordination with Libyan forces, which reportedly participated in the bombing. “Avenging Egyptian blood is a national imperative,” the Egyptian military said in the statement.
“However, Libya's Tripoli-based parliament said it was opposed to Egypt's role in the operation,” NBC News reports. “ ‘We strongly condemn the Egyptian aggression this morning on Derna and which we consider to be an assault against Libyan sovereignty,’ said Omar Homaydan, the spokesman for the General National Congress—the body representing the faction that took over the capital last year.”
Libya has been in chaos, without an effective functioning government, since the overthrow of Col. Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Egypt’s military intervention injects foreign powers into the ongoing conflict within Libya, and further drags the country into a broader regional conflict, as a new theater of war with ISIS. ISIS fighters claim to have made attacks in Libya before, and Egypt has complained about the growing threat the group posed, but the kidnapping and mass murder of the Egyptian workers, like the burning of a Jordanian pilot weeks ago, has again compelled governments in the region to become more active in the campaign against the militant Islamist group.
“The kidnapped Egyptian workers, all Coptic Christians, were seized in separate incidents in December and January from the coastal town of Sirte in eastern Libya, under the control of Islamist groups,” the BBC reports. “Libya is home to a large community of both Muslim and Coptic Egyptians, with most working in the construction sector.”
Local media in Libya report that three children and two women were killed in the airstrikes in Derna, according to Bloomberg.