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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Two new Libyan sites appear to have been bombed by Egyptian planes

After carrying out six attacks on the city of Derna in Libya the other day, Egyptian planes may have carried out attacks on the Jufra air base held by Mistratan forces together with members of the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB).


The air base was attacked once in the morning and again in the evening. The planes were believed to belong to the Egyptian air force. A nearby headquarters of a separate Misratan unit was also said to have been hit with loud explosions being heard indicating that an ammunition depot may have been hit. There have been no reports of casualties so far. The earlier attacks on Derna were said to be directed at terrorist camps where those responsible for an attack in Egypt that killed 28 Coptic Christians had been trained. As I argued in an earlier Digital Journal article this appears highly unlikely. The attacks on new targets in Libya suggest that the Egyptian president el-Sisi has used the terror attack as an excuse to help out his supporter in Libya Marshal Kahlifa Haftar. The attack in Egypt was claimed by the Islamic State that was driven out of Derna by the Derna Shura Council of Mujahideen some time ago.
The rival government to the Government of National Accord (GNA) the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk expressed support for the earlier Egyptian attacks. In contrast, the Presidential Council)PC) of the GNA called them a violation of Libya's sovereignty which had happened without coordination with the GNA. Even though Egypt gives lip-service to the UN resolution that asserts that the GNA is the sole legitimate government of Libya, it along with the UAE, and Russia also help out the HoR and its military commander Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The PC also said that it was anxious to cooperate with Egypt in the war on terror but that the Derna attacks had no justification whatsover.
On Sunday, several locations in the town of Hun were targeted by air strikes probably by Egyptian planes. There were attacks on the Al-Mujahid Brigade and Tagreft Brigade both of whom had been part of the Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous group that drove the Islamic State from Sirte. The raids also targeted an arms depot of the Tagrefrt Brigade that sent shrapnel throughout the town. Local sources reported: "Many explosions followed the air raids gradually as the ammunition and Grad rockets went off in different areas in the town. One rocket at least was exploded in the former military command building and another went off in the open in Hun." There were no reports of any casualties yet. Egyptian media announced that it was mounting air strikes in Libya but did not say where. It should be eminently clear that Haftar is actually attacking forces that fought against the Islamic State both in Sirte and Derna . The attacks will help prepare the way for ground attacks in both Derna and areas around Jufra. Haftar's air force is not up to the task on its own and el-Sisi is willing to join Haftar's operations in the name of the war on terrorism along with the claim the attacks are in self defence. Egypt has even sent an official notice and defense of the attacks to the UN security council. It will be interesting to see if there will be an emergency meeting of the council to consider the attacks.
Apparently there are new attacks today as reported in a recent tweet: #Libya Report - 3rd day of Egypt air strikes against Libya targets. Meanwhile there have been clashes in Tripoli with militia supporting the GNA against a number from Misrata. As the Tripoli GNA is further weakened by its struggles to control militias in Tripoli Haftar is consolidating his power and taking over more territory as he took over an airbase near Sabah in the south just recently after the Third Force of the GNA abandoned it.



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