Egypt calls for foreign intervention in Libya
President Sisi urges UN-backed intervention a day after Egypt reportedly bombs ISIL targets in the country’s east.
Egypt has called for a UN resolution mandating international intervention in Libya a day after its jets reportedly targeted fighters in the war-torn country pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said “there is no choice” but to create a global coalition to confront Libya’s rival militias, in an interview aired on Tuesday with France’s Europe 1 radio.
“We have abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners of the militias … the militias have to give up their arms and must work in a civil context.”
Authorities in Libya have struggled to confront the armed groups which fought to oust longtime leader, Muammar Gaddafi, who was overthrown and killed three years ago.
Rival groups have battled each other amid disputes over ways of governing the country and sharing its oil wealth.
Taking advantage of the crisis, ISIL-affiliated groups have carried out a string of deadly attacks.
On Sunday, fighters pledging allegiance to ISIL released a video purporting to show the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.
Egypt’s military responded on Monday when it carried out air raids against what is claimed were ISIL camps, training sites and weapons storage areas in Libya’s northeast.
In a statement aired on state television, the military said: “The air strikes hit their [ISIL] targets precisely, and the falcons of our air forces returned safely to their bases.”
However, photos published on social media purportedly showed several damaged residential areas in Derna and sources told Al Jazeera that at least seven people were killed, including three children.
Omar al-Hassi, the head of Libya’s legally installed government in Tripoli, called the Egyptian raids “terrorism” and denounced them as a “sinful aggression”.
“This horrible assault and this terrorism that’s been conducted by the Egyptian military represents a violation of sovereignty in Libya and is a clear breach of international law and the UN charter,” Hassi said.
Referring to the 2011 Libyan war, in which France played a lead role in the campaign to oust Gaddafi, Sisi said Libya remained an “unfinished mission”.
Sisi also called on militias to hand in their arms and urged weapons to be supplied to Libya’s UN-recognised government in Tobruk.
The Tobruk government has already asked for the lifting of an international arms embargo to help it take back control of the country.
France has campaigned for months for some kind of international action in Libya, and on Monday announced a deal to sell 24 advanced fighter jets to Egypt.
French troops are already in place near Libya’s southern border in Niger as part of a counterterrorism force.
However, a NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was “no discussion within NATO on taking military action in Libya”.
The European Union has also said it would meet with the Egyptian and US governments this week to discuss joint action, but that it saw no role in any military intervention for now.
According to the UN at least 400,000 people have been displaced by fighting across Libya, with as many as 83,000 people living in settlements, schools and abandoned buildings.