Egyptian jets attack Islamist positions in Benghazi
BENGHAZI // Egyptian warplanes bombed Islamist militia positions in Benghazi as part of a large-scale operation to eradicate militants who have controlled the Libyan city for months.
The bombing raids came as Libya’s army threw its weight behind renegade Libyan general, Khalifa Haftar, who launched a new assault yesterday against the militants.
Officials in Cairo said Egypt was leading the operation that would eventually involve Libyan ground troops recently trained by Egyptian forces.
At least 12 people were killed and 10 others wounded, including three soldiers, and a man and his three children as Gen Haftar’s forces said they captured the headquarters of the Islamist militia known as the “February 17 Martyrs Brigade” after several hours of fighting.
Gunfire was heard in several Benghazi districts from early morning, residents said.
The fighting came after Gen Haftar said on Tuesday he was ready to “liberate” the city.
The army announced yesterday it had thrown its weight behind Gen Haftar, who launched a first, unsuccessful, campaign against the Islamists in May, dubbing it “Operation Dignity”.
“The Libyan army claims ‘Operation Dignity’” as one of its own campaigns, spokesman Col Ahmed Al Mesmari said, adding, “now it is one operation of the army, among others.”
The Egyptian officials said the operation in Benghazi had been requested by the internationally recognised Libyan administration based in the eastern city of Tobruk.
That elected administration was thrown out of the capital of Tripoli by rival militias allied with Islamist political factions.
The officials said the operation also involves the use of an Egyptian navy vessel as a command centre off the Mediterranean shore of Tobruk.
They said Egypt was dealing directly with a newly appointed Libyan chief of staff and that the operation is expected to last three to six months.
* Associated Press, with additional reporting from Agence France-Presse
Updated: October 15, 2014 04:00 AM