The official spokesperson of Egypt’s army released three statements on updates of the large-scale military operation in the Sinai peninsula, Western Desert and Delta region aiming to suppress Islamic State militant activity there.
A video statement released on Saturday said that the Egyptian Air Forces executed a number of airstrikes against militants’ stationing points in North and Central Sinai.
The strikes began on Friday and went on until the early hours of Saturday morning during which many weapons stores and logistic support zones belonging to the militants were destroyed.
Dubbed “Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018,” the operation was conducted with the participation of various branches of the Egyptian Armed Forces, including the Third and Second Field Armies located in the Sinai.
“The number of forces that are participating in the ‘Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018’ reached 35,000 armymen with the support of Egypt’s Special Forces and police. The operation aims to eliminate the presence of the Islamic State-affiliated group Sinai Province. The wide spread of the Egyptian Armed Forces inside Sinai will leave no presence to a single militant,” an army source who preferred to remain anonymous told Egypt Independent on Sunday.
The soure said that the initial reason behind the operation was the November 2017 Rawda mosque attack that killed more than 300 people. The attack prompted the army to prepare for a wide-ranging operation aiming to eliminate the presence of the Islamic State in Egypt, regardless of the consequences.
The Army’s third statement noted that ground forces, with the support of Special Forces and Border Guard Forces, executed on Saturday sweeping operations in different parts in cities of North and Central Sinai to chase down fugitive militants and kill them.
Moreover, the statement highlighted that members of Egypt’s naval forces are currently executing securing operations at the coast overlooking Egypt’s North Sinai’s city of Rafah for the sake of suspending any support coming from sea to militants.
Since 2014, North Sinai has seen an increase in conflict between the army and police and Sinai Province—previously known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis before it announced its allegiance to the Islamic State. The group has launched several violent attacks against army and police checkpoints in North Sinai cities.
North Sinai-based state security has carried out large-scale security sweeps and military operations in response.