The Egyptian military says it has bombed a number of ISIS camps, weapon depots and training areas in Libya, in response to a video released by the terrorist organization where it showed the beheading of around 12 Coptic Christians, among 21 who are believed to have been killed by them.
Egyptian F-16 jets attacked strategic points in Derna, Libya early monday morning. In a statement broadcast on state television, the Egyptian military said: "Avenging Egyptian blood and punishing criminals and murderers is our right and duty," The country's Foreign Ministry made it clear that the military intervention was necessary, since without it, international peace and security would be threatened by terrorist organizations.
The footage, believed to be released by ISIS, is similar to many such videos previously taken and made public by the terrorist organization, which has a history of recording the slaughter of hostages. Even though it showed just 12 Christians being killed, Egyptian officials believe that all 21 people who were kidnapped from the Libyan coastal city of Sirte in two incidents in December and January were killed.
There is growing international concern, regarding the growth of ISIS influence in Libya, where there has been a power vacuum since the 2011 uprising, that led to the ouster of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. By November last year, ISIS had complete control over the port city of Derna, which is located close to the Egyptian border and has a population of around 100,000.
Jihadists with links to ISIS have also been expanding their presence in Libya along its coast, including setting up chapters in Benghazi, Sirte, Tripoli and other cities in the North African country. A Libyan group affiliated with ISIS claimed responsibility for a recent attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli that killed 10 people, including an American.
The growing presence of ISIS beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria are a cause of concern for the international community. It is still unclear what level of control ISIS exerts over groups in Libya that are responsible for these attacks, but analysts have noted that the style of operation of the Libyan group that killed the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians mirrors recent ISIS actions.