By Miriam Raftery
San Diego (February 16, 2015) – Egypt has launched airstrikes at Islamic State (ISIL) jihadists in Libya, CNN reports. The attacks are in retaliation for ISIS claims of killing 21 Egyptian Christians, including approximately a dozen whose beheadings were shown in the latest gruesome video released by ISIL.
Mark Arabo, a national spokesman for Iraqi Chaldean Christians in San Diego, issued a statement to media voicing concern for other Christians in the wake of the murders, denouncing ISIL for conducting "Christian genocide."
"The Iraqi Chaldean Christian community mourns the loss of our 20 Christians brothers at the hands of ISIL,” Arabo said. “The fact that these killings took place outside of the strongholds of Syria and Iraq show that ISIL seems to be growing in strength and expanding their reach. The beheading of these Christians remind us that we are targets. And, that without strong international pressure, the senseless killings of mass amounts of Christians will persist in what is now a Christian genocide. "
The Egyptian Christians were from poor areas of their country and had gone to Libya seeking work, but were kidnapped from Sirste, a city on the coast of Libya.
On Egyptian state television, the Egyptian military broadcast this statement: “Avenging Egyptian blood and punishing criminals and murderers is our right and duty.”
A recent escalation of provocations by ISIL is prompting retaliation by Arab nations. Jordan recently increased its bombings of ISIL targets after ISIL released a video showing a Jordanian pilot burned alive by ISIL jihadists.
The U.S. has condemned the killings as “barbarism.” President Obama last week asked Congress for war powers to go after ISIL without geographic boundaries primarily through air strikes, though limited use of ground forces for hostage rescues, intelligence operations and targeted attacks on ISIL leaders would be allowed. Congress has yet to act on the President’s request.