14,806 Egyptians Return from Libya

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The number of Egyptians returning home from Libya has so far reached 14,806 since 16 February, Brigadier General Fawzi Nayel, an official at Salloum Port, told Daily News Egypt Monday.

Nayel added that the numbers are surveyed every 24 hours, with Egypt receiving 3,018 on Sunday.

The border has witnessed increasing number of Egyptians coming from Libya following the release of a video by “Islamic State” affiliates in Libya. The video showed the beheading of 20 Egyptian Copts on 15 February, in an act that caused worldwide outrage and condemnation.

The attack was followed by Egyptian airstrikes in coordination with the internationally recognised Libyan government led by Abdallah Al-Thinni on IS targets in the city of Derna.

In response to the airstrikes, “Islamic State” affiliates claimed two retaliatory operations by car bombs conducted in Al-Qubbah in eastern Libya Friday, targeting Al-Qubbah security directorate and a gas station. The group claimed in a statement to have killed “tens”.

The deceased are reported to have exceeded 40, out of whom six were Egyptians.

The opposing government in Libya condemned the Egyptian airstrikes, and accused Egypt of killing civilians during the attack on Derna.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi denied such reports in a televised interview addressing the nation Sunday. During the broadcast, Al-Sisi stressed that the Egyptian army is not the “aggressor” or “invaders”, but it “protects our country and people”.

Al-Sisi noted the airstrikes were directed at 13 “Islamic State” targets “that were studied accurately”, and pointed out the necessity of the attack.

Al-Thinni told Daily News Egypt that his government agreed with Al-Sisi and confirmed the continuation of airstrikes against “Islamic State” targets on Libyan territories. These will continue in coordination with the Egyptian army, but that the numbers of militants killed remains “classified”.

Egypt and Libya both called, last week, during the UN Security Council meeting for the embargo that has been imposed on the Libyan government since 2011 to be lifted to allow the Libyan army to defend the country.

Egypt has also called for a resolution to mandate an international coalition to intervene in Libya.

Al-Thinni said that the Libyan government welcomes the establishment of an Arab coalition to fight on its side against “terrorists” on Libyan territories. He added that the government is currently working on the activation of Arab Joint Defence agreement in the Arab League.

The Arab League permanent delegate level convened Friday to address the “barbaric terrorist act”, resolving the Arab Nations stand, aside from Qatar, with Egypt in its fight against “terrorism”. The League said it fully supports all actions and measures taken to contain and eliminate this phenomenon, highlighting its full understanding of the Egyptian airstrike directed on Derna. The League also emphasised finding a political solution for the Libyan crisis and working on lifting the embargo.

Jordan circulated an Arab-backed resolution to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), addressing the situation in Libya, and calling for the embargo lift. Jordan also condemned attempts to provide weapons to other parties, and supported Libyan government’s efforts to counter terrorism, Reuters reported.

The resolution was further discussed in an Arab League meeting on Monday.

The US, Italy, France, Britain, Spain and Germany called for a “unity government” in Libya. The group noted in a joint statement released last week that the “UN-led process to establish a national unity government in Libya provides the best hope for Libyans to address the terrorist threat and to confront the violence and instability”.

The US continues to “support” the arms embargo on Libya, said Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki.

Libya has been witnessing a rising insurgency by different rebel groups and militias, increasing the use of weapons since the overthrow of the Jamahiriya
in 2011.

Currently, two opposing governments are operating in Libya, with Al-Thinni’s government in Tobruk in eastern Libya, opposed by another, led by Omar Al-Hasi, in Tripoli in western Libya.