The international coalition combating the Islamic State group has not made a decision on whether to intervene militarily in Libya, Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said in press statements on Tuesday.
The statement came as Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry was in Italy to take part in the Summit of the International Coalition against the IS group, which aims to devise a new strategy for the coalition’s members to combat terrorism in Syria and Iraq.
The coalition consists of 24 states, including the United States and France, as well as Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
In October 2015, Libyan foreign minister Mohamed Al-Dairi told London-based Al-Hayat that although Egypt has no military presence in Libya, Egyptian forces sometimes operate in Libya when pursuing smugglers.
Egypt’s border with Libya, which stretches over 1,000 kilometres, has posed a security concern in recent years, with smugglers crossing it to get weapons and militants in and out of Egypt.
Following the ouster of long-time Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, militias have fought central government forces in a civil war that has ravaged the country, and in the last year some territories have seen a sustained IS presence, particularly the eastern city of Derna and the more central Sirte.
In February, The IS group released a video showing the execution of 21 Egyptians who were beheaded on a Libyan beach.
Egypt reacted immediately by launching airstrikes on the group’s strongholds in Libya.
“There are 5,000 IS fighters in Derna and Sirte,” Al-Dairi told Al-Hayat. “So the Libyan army’s main task is fighting terrorism, and that might require extra troops and hardware.”
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi blamed "the international community" for the Libyan crisis and the spread of terrorism there in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2015.
In 2011, a NATO force drawn from many member-states intervened militarily in Libya.