News / Middle East

US Surprised by Egypt, UAE Airstrikes on Libyan Militants

Plumes of black smoke can be seen after clashes between the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and fighters of renegade general Khalifa Haftar, as they each attempt to seize control of the airport from the council in Benghazi, Libya, Aug. 23, 2014.Plumes of black smoke can be seen after clashes between the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and fighters of renegade general Khalifa Haftar, as they each attempt to seize control of the airport from the council in Benghazi, Libya, Aug. 23, 2014.
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Plumes of black smoke can be seen after clashes between the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and fighters of renegade general Khalifa Haftar, as they each attempt to seize control of the airport from the council in Benghazi, Libya, Aug. 23, 2014.
Plumes of black smoke can be seen after clashes between the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and fighters of renegade general Khalifa Haftar, as they each attempt to seize control of the airport from the council in Benghazi, Libya, Aug. 23, 2014.
VOA News

Senior U.S. officials said Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have launched airstrikes against Islamic militants in the Libyan capital twice in the past week.

U.S. officials told reporters that the move caught the United States by surprise, potentially dealing a blow to relations between Washington, Cairo and the Emirates.

U.S. officials said Egypt provided the base for the launch of the airstrikes, and the U.A.E. provided the aircraft and pilots.

Egypt has not publicly acknowledged any role in the air strikes. The UAE had no immediate comment.

The first strike took place in Tripoli a week ago and targeted Islamist-alligned militant-held facilities, such as a weapons depot, and killed six people, according to The New York Times.

The second airstrike hit militant-controlled rocket launchers, military vehicles and a warehouse in Tripoli, killing a dozen people.

U.S. officials, according to the Times, say the strikes have, so far, proved counterproductive. The militants gained control of the Tripoli airport just hours after the second attack.

Warning against interference

On Monday, the United States and four top European allies warned against outside interference in Libya.

The State Department, along with Britain, France, Germany and Italy, issued a statement saying actions by outsiders exacerbate divisions in Libya and undermine democracy.

The five allies strongly condemned ongoing fighting in such major cities as Tripoli and Benghazi, especially in residential areas, and urged all parties to accept a cease-fire.

Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Numerous armed Islamist groups are violently jockeying for power, competing assemblies have elected rival prime ministers, and an interim central government is struggling to establish security.

The violence in Tripoli and Benghazi has prompted several countries to evacuate their citizens and diplomats from Libya.

Officials from Libya's neighbors - Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia - have met in Cairo to discuss the worsening chaos.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said the weapons stockpiled by all the Libyan militias should be confiscated. He has voiced concern about the effect of the turmoil on Libya's neighbors.

  • Speaker of the Libyan Parliament Ageila Saleh Eissa (left) meets Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the presidential palace in Cairo, Aug. 26, 2014.
  • Foreign ministers from Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, and Chad, as well as the Arab League Secretary General, met together to address the weeks of inter-militia fighting that has wreaked havoc in Libya, in Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 25, 2014.
  • Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz attends the Fourth Ministerial Meeting for the Neighboring Countries of Libya, which aims to address the latest developments in the security and political situation in Libya, in Cairo, Aug. 25, 2014.
  • Airstrikes from unknown attackers against Islamist militias prompted allegations that outside powers were trying to impact the outcome of the battle, Tripoli, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • Clashes between rival militias have wrecked havoc for the last several weeks causing concerns that Libya is sliding deeper into turmoil, in Tripoli, Aug. 24, 2014.

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by: Bryan from: Louisiana
August 27, 2014 2:11 PM
There is no way the US was caught "by surprise" on this operation. We were probably in on the planning.

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
August 26, 2014 7:00 PM
The air strikes in Libya by Egypt and United Arab Emirates "caught United States by surprise"? ...well, tell that story to the birds !. The world knows that Egypt and UAE have no capabilities of conducting anything outside of their countries without the support and guidance from Unite States Of American.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
August 26, 2014 4:42 PM
It doesn't have to be the Libya Gahdafi left ,now we have Western Libya with capital in Tripoli and Eastern Libya with capital in Bengazi till a uniting force or individual come along.

by: John from: Florida
August 26, 2014 12:55 PM
US and the other four should take their own advice: meddling in the affairs of another's country is counterproductive

by: bobv from: texas
August 26, 2014 12:42 PM
1) UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt were giving the weapons by the USA with conditions as to when and where the weapons can be used (so to protect Israel.)
2) having a plane\pilot and airport doesn't make targets brighter or easier, some other country like US or UK with access to satellite would provide the intelligence and the target coordinates.
3) It's highly encouraged by the west to have muslims kill other muslims.

by: db from: Boston
August 26, 2014 12:39 PM
Surprised?
We are wasting a perfect opportunity to work together with all concerned to thwart this group.

by: Guy
August 26, 2014 12:29 PM
Would you trust Obama? Or maybe he just didn't get the memo on the golf course?

by: chris87654 from: USA
August 26, 2014 12:25 PM
EXCELLENT! Moderate Muslims finally going after the miscreants they've allowed to grow over the past 1500 years. This could bring a major change in the Middle East - a shame it's taken so long and so many innocent lives to make it happen.

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