Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Egypt Foreign Ministry Expresses "Extreme Discontent" at Amnesty Report
Ahram Online, Tuesday 24 Feb 2015

An Amnesty International report has claimed that seven civilians were killed in Egyptian airstrikes in Libya last week

The foreign ministry spokesperson on Tuesday expressed his "extreme astonishment and discontent" at the "false information" in an Amnesty International report claiming that seven civilians were killed by Egyptian airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) group targets in Derna, eastern Libya, last week.

Coordinating with the Libyan army, the Egyptian forces launched the airstrikes on 16 February, in retaliation for IS group beheading 20 Egyptian Coptic migrant workers a day earlier.

"Egypt considers and abides by international agreements and standards, and the targets against this terrorist organisation were carefully chosen, as the airstrike focused on the training camps and weaponry reserves of terrorist organisation IS," said Ambassador Badr Abdel-Aty in a foreign ministry statement published on Tuesday.

He also said that Egypt had used its right to self-defense in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and that Egypt had coordinated with the "legitimate Libyan government", which asked for Egypt's support in facing the danger of "terrorist organisations including IS".

The foreign ministry spokesperson said Egypt is keen on protecting the lives of civilians, as the airstrike came following an accurate study to avoid any casualties among civilians.

In a televised speech on Sunday, Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi rejected accusations that the army had targeted civilians, saying the airstrikes against the IS group were precisely aimed at specific military targets.

Libyan air force chief Saqr Al-Jaroushi had told an Egyptian broadcaster shortly after the Egyptian airstrikes that his country's airforce, which coordinated the attacks with Cairo, bombed an anti-aircraft system which was stationed on the roof of a civilian building.

Amnesty published a report on Tuesday containing alleged testimonies by residents who claimed two missiles had landed in the heavily populated residential area of Sheiha al-Gharbiya in Derna.

According to eyewitnesses, reported Amnesty, most of the Egyptian airstrikes in and around Derna were on military targets, but two missiles landed in the heavily populated residential area of Sheiha al-Gharbiya.

The foreign ministry spokesperson wondered where those organisations were when thousands of airstrikes by "major countries" in various Arab and Islamic countries resulted in hundreds, if not thousands of civilian casualties.

"It is surprising that these organisations, including Amnesty, were keen on ignoring those facts with the claim they happened unintentionally, which raises questions about how serious they are and the reality of their intentions, and about their strategy of double standards and selectiveness when it comes to the actions of major countries".

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