Egypt’s military and police forces have continued their offensive in the Sinai Peninsula in an attempt to rout the Islamic State and other Islamist militants out of the area, officials said on Thursday. And in the continuing operations, they’ve killed 53 terrorists and detained another 680 suspects in the week-long operation.
Following the directives of President Sisi, the army is keeping the heat on the Islamist insurgents and pushing deeper in trying to crush any insurgent activity.
The security operation, which involves the army, navy, air force and police, began last Friday and targeted “terrorist and criminal elements and organizations” in north and central Sinai, parts of the Nile delta and the western desert, Colonel Tamer al-Rifai told a news conference broadcast on state television on Thursday.
Rifai said forces have destroyed over 1,000 kg (2,205 lbs) of explosives, 378 militant hideouts and weapon storage facilities including a media center used by the militants.
He added that 680 people, some of them suspected militants or wanted criminals, were also detained in the operation.
The air force, which has carried out more than 100 airstrikes in northern and central Sinai since the operation began, has focused on militant hideouts outside residential areas to avoid hitting civilians, air force Brigadier General Alaa Dawara said.
Major General Yasser Abdel Aziz of the Military Operations Authority said the operation would end when Sinai was free of “terrorists”.
“It could be extended or shortened according to the situation and that is what will be determined in the coming days,” Abdel Aziz told journalists.
He said after the military operation, Egyptian authorities would push ahead with a comprehensive development plan for Sinai.
Outside the peninsula, the Egyptian military said the operation also covers parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert, where other militants have waged attacks, some believed to be staged out of neighboring Libya.
The Islamic State in its official newspaper al-Naba encouraged Egyptians to attack government forces to show that the campaign is a failure. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been fighting the IS in the Sinai since 2013 when he was the Army chief. He’s now seeking re-election in March.
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Photo courtesy: Egyptian military