Egypt targets terrorists in 'Sinai 2018' military operation

Egypt targets terrorists in 'Sinai 2018' military operation

Egypt targets terrorists in 'Sinai 2018' military operation

Egypt has been battling a growing militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula since the overthrow of the elected former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

A military spokesman said the operation would cover large parts of Sinai plus parts of the Nile delta and the western desert, where other militants have waged attacks.

The Egyptian army announced the launch on Friday of a major operation against militants across swathes of territory including the Sinai Peninsula, the heart of a persistent Daesh insurgency.

Warplanes will bomb areas where jihadists are hiding while troops, tanks and armoured vehicles will be deployed on the ground, security sources said.

In statement No. 2 on the comprehensive anti-terrorism operation, the spokesperson confirmed, "The Air Force is targeting hotbeds and dens of terrorist elements in the north and central Sinai", aired at 11:50 am Cairo local time.

The army spokesman said the operation will involve operational and training manoeuvres to tighten state control on the country's crossing points with neighbouring countries, and urged full cooperation with the law enforcement forces involved in the operation.

Egypt regularly targets militants with air strikes and arrest raids in Sinai.

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The navy was boosting security at maritime borders 'to cut off the influx of terrorists, ' he added.

Egypt has been under a state of emergency since April a year ago, after two suicide bombings at churches claimed by ISIS killed at least 45 people in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.

Abdel Aal said in previous statement on Thursday that Egypt has witnessed a severe decline in the number of terrorist operations in the last period thanks to the police and army's counterterrorism efforts.

The head of Hamas, the Islamist group which runs Gaza, was however permitted to travel to Cairo for talks before the border was closed a day earlier than planned.

Most of the terror attacks were carried out by the so-called Wilayat Sinai (Sinai state or province), a Sinai-based group affiliated with the Islamic State (IS), a regional terrorist group.

Security officials said the forces killed at least 20 militants in the north Sinai town of Bir al-Abd.

The comprehensive anti-terror operation comes weeks before Egypt starts its 2018 presidential elections, where incumbent President Sisi is expected to make an easy win for a second term due to the lack of strong challengers in the race.

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