CAIRO (AA) – The Libyan army said Monday that a fresh series of joint Egyptian-Libyan airstrikes on Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) targets in Libya would be carried out "within hours."
Libyan army commander Khalifa Haftar "is coordinating with the Egyptian army command on how to respond" to the recent beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by ISIL militants in Libya, Libyan army spokesman Ahmed al-Masmari told The Anadolu Agency.
"High-level contacts were made between Haftar and Egyptian military officials, including Defense Minister Sedqi Sobhi, during consultations between the two sides," he said.
According to al-Masmari, coordination between the two sides began shortly before Egyptian warplanes struck ISIL targets in Libya in the early hours of Monday.
The spokesman said the next round of airstrikes would target ISIL sites in Libya's central-northern city of Sirte.
Al-Masmari pointed out that earlier airstrikes had targeted training camps and houses mounted with anti-aircraft missile launchers.
"The Egyptian Air Force has contributed six F-16 jets for the raids," he said.
The official went on to assert that "intensive contacts" were currently underway with a view to establishing an international coalition – including France, Italy and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – to support Egypt's "war on terrorism."
The proposed alliance, he said, would be distinct from the U.S.-led coalition currently confronting ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Earlier Monday, Libyan Air Force Chief-of-Staff Saqr Geroushi said at least 40 militants had been killed in joint airstrikes carried out by the Egyptian and Libyan air forces against ISIL targets in Libya.
The strikes come one day after a video emerged online showing the execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic-Christian workers in Libya by masked men purportedly belonging to ISIL.
In a televised Sunday address delivered following the video's appearance, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said his country "reserves the right to respond at the appropriate time to avenge the killing of its nationals."
Libya has remained a source of concern for neighboring Egypt since it descended into violence and chaos following the 2011 ouster and death of strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
In the more than three years since, Egyptians have been frequently targeted in Libya, prompting Cairo to repeatedly warn citizens against travelling to the fractious North African country.