Egyptian army fighting in Libya: military sources

Egyptian army fighting in Libya: military sources
Cairo is sending elite army battalions to fight with General Haftar's anti-Islamist forces in Libya, telling soldiers they are being posted to Egypt's western desert.
3 min read
19 March, 2015
Haftar's army is fighting Islamist rivals for control of Libya [AFP]

Egyptian troops are fighting in Libya to support General Khalifa Haftar's forces, according to military sources.

Cairo's support for the Libyan military commander has reached a new stage recently with Egypt also sending Haftar 12 military planes to support his anti-Islamist campaign.

Haftar, who has been appointed the Tobruk's parliament's army chief, is also said to be preparing for a visit to Cairo as a sign of official backing for the no-longer-renegade general.

Air support

According to military sources, Egypt's parachute battalion 94 are being deployed to Libya to back the general after entering the country through the Siwa Oasis.

Tobruk has repeatedly asked the international community to provide military backing in its fight against the rival Tripoli government, and a myriad of Islamist and extremist militias.

"Egyptian Air Forces are providing Haftar's forces with several fighter jets to be delivered soon," a military source told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"There are four helicopters in the Mansoura airport in Egypt’s Delta region, four MiG aircrafts in the Hurghada Airport, and four other MiG aircraft at an unnamed location."

It is alleged that Libyan pilots will fly the aircraft to Libya via the Sidi Barrani Airport in western Egypt.

Egypt will also receive new recruits at its elite military academy Dahshour. Previously, cadets were required to hold higher education degrees, but the special forces training camp is now open to all.

Tricked into fighting

A source in Egypt's parachute battalion who is based in the camp said special anti-terror battalions were being formed, each made up of 16-members.

His battalion were told that they would be posted to the western desert in Egypt, before they discovered they had been posted to Libya, fighting alongside an anti-Islamist force.

"We worked with Haftar's forces, made up of men and women with highly advanced weapons,” the Egyptian soldier says.

     The military announced that the soldiers were killed in Ivory Coast.

- Egyptian military source

"Three Egyptian soldiers were killed in one of the operations, but after the return of the battalion, the military announced that the soldiers were killed in Ivory Coast as part of the Egypt's peacekeeping mission."

He said the soldiers followed orders to target Libyan "soldiers and civilians".

When one soldier confronted his commander, he was reportedly re-deployed. He has not been seen since.

"Saaqa special forces stationed in Sinai were replaced by troops from the parachute battalion due to exhaustion," said the military source.

"We would go fight the protesters in Fayoum. One of our soldiers had a cousin in detention, and when we were ordered to strike, he refused, left his weapon and ran away. They could not catch him, so he was tried in absentia and sentenced to death."

In a symbolic act of intimidation, a firing squad allegedly shot his empty military uniform.

During Haftar's visit to Cairo next week the general is reportedly due to meet with Egypt's defence minister Sedki Sobhi and commander in Chief Mahmoud Hegazi.

This follows a deal allegedly struck by the Libyan military, to purchase Russian arms using Egypt as an intermediary.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.