Egypt launched air strikes in Libya this week, and the Libyans called for the attacks to continue. The reason? The Egyptians were targeting ISIS (ISIL) camps in Libya, following the release of a video showing 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians being beheaded by ISIS. Daily News Egypt reported that the Egyptians said the strikes were successful, hitting ISIS weapons and training camps.
The Daily News Egypt report cited an article from the Al-Ahram newspaper as saying that 64 ISIS members were killed in the strikes. The Daily News Egypt also reported that Libyan air force commander Saqr Jeroushi told Sada El-Balad television that the Egyptian strikes should continue since the two nations have “the same enemy.” Turns out that Hezbollah and Iraq do as well, and Hezbollah is now openly fighting in yet another Middle Eastern country. The target? ISIS again.
The Washington Post reported that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a videotaped speech on Monday that his group is battling ISIS in Iraq, the first time the group has admitted to its involvement in Iraq. The article quoted Nasrallah as saying this action is in its “earliest stages.”
Hezbollah has long fought in Syria, which neighbors Iraq, supporting the Syrian regime in that nation’s civil war. But Iraq is on the other side of Syria from Hezbollah’s home base in Lebanon, with the distance showing just how regional the fight against ISIS has become.
The Washington Post reported that Nasrallah called for the battle to include even more fighters.
Said the Lebanese terror group leader, “To those who call for Hezbollah’s withdrawal from Syria, I invite you to come with us to Syria… and I invite you to come with us to Iraq.”
ISIS first gained a major foothold in Syria, and then later spread their control into Iraq, with Libya now battling the group. While Hezbollah backs the regime in Syria in fighting ISIS, the US still believes it was the Syrian regime that first enabled ISIS to rise as a force.
US spokesperson Jen Psaki said in comments released by the State Department on Friday, “I would say that we continue to believe that [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad is the biggest magnet for terrorism in the region, that he allowed ISIL [ISIS] to grow and prosper in his own country and allowed them to have safe havens in his own country. And that has led to the strength that they have built over the past couple of years.”
But ISIS has since become a real threat to the Syrian regime, and now traditional enemies to Assad, like the leaderships in Egypt and Libya, are fighting the same enemy as Syria and its allies. Seeking to rule the Middle East in a modern Muslim kingdom, ISIS has instead managed to unite the region in the battle against them.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 16, 2015)