In Egypt Pro-Haftar air force says took part in raids

The air force loyal to Libya's strongman Khalifa Haftar said Saturday it took part in Egyptian air strikes on jihadist positions in the country after a deadly attack on Egypt's Copts.

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Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, pictured earlier in May 2017, carried out a "joint operation" with Egypt on jihadist camps in Libya's eastern city of Derna play

Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, pictured earlier in May 2017, carried out a "joint operation" with Egypt on jihadist camps in Libya's eastern city of Derna

(AFP/File)
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The air force loyal to Libya's strongman Khalifa Haftar said Saturday it took part in Egyptian air strikes on jihadist positions in the country after a deadly attack on Egypt's Copts.

Egypt launched six air strikes on jihadist camps in Libya's eastern city of Derna on Friday, hours after masked gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians south of Cairo, killing at least 29 people.

The Islamic State group on Saturday claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of IS strikes that have killed more than 100 Copts in Egypt since December.

Haftar's forces carried out a "joint operation" with Egypt in Derna, the air force said in a statement carried by the LANA news agency loyal to Libya's eastern administration.

Egypt used French-built Rafale fighter jets to target military camps and the headquarters of the pro-Al-Qaeda Majlis Mujahedeen Derna, which controls the city, it said.

"The operation was a success and the losses of the Al-Qaeda terrorists were heavy in casualties and equipment," the statement said.

The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), opposed by Haftar, denounced the raids as a violation of its sovereignty.

"Whatever the pretext, we reject any action that undermines the sovereignty of our country. There is no justification for the violation of the territory of other countries," a GNA statement said.

Derna was known for being a bastion of extremists even before the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Libya's longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Relatives of killed Coptic Christians grieve on May 26, 2017 during a funeral at Abu Garnous Cathedral in Maghagha, Egypt play

Relatives of killed Coptic Christians grieve on May 26, 2017 during a funeral at Abu Garnous Cathedral in Maghagha, Egypt

(AFP/File)

After the revolt, the Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia slowly spread its presence to Derna.

In 2014, some jihadists defected to join IS, which took control of Derna.

Pro-Al-Qaeda elements opposed to IS banded together to form Majlis Mujahedeen Derna to fight both the group and Haftar's forces, in 2015 expelling the jihadists from the city.

Haftar's forces regularly carry out air raids on positions of the pro-Al-Qaeda alliance.

Libya's Islamists accuse Haftar allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates of taking part in these strikes.

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