Egypt reports major success in Sinai Peninsula terrorism crackdown

Egyptian Army secures Operation Sinai 2018

Egyptian Army secures Operation Sinai 2018

Egypt's Salafi Call, a group of ultra-orthodox Salafi Muslims, said it is backing Egypt's army it its battle against terrorism, two days after a major counterterrorism operation focused on Sinai was launched.

A total of 16 militants were killed, it added.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is seeking re-election in March, ordered the armed forces in November to defeat militants within three months after an attack on a mosque killed more than 300 people, the deadliest such incident in the Arab world's most populous country.

The operation, which targets "terrorist and criminal elements and organizations", involves land, naval and air forces from the army and police, and covers north and central Sinai, the Nile Delta and the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya.

Security forces also uncovered and destroyed six farms used to grow banned narcotics, the statement said.

The New York Times says Israeli warplanes have carried out covert air strikes in Egypt with the Egyptian president's approval. Members of the armed forces are barred by law from expressing political opinions in Egypt. Konsowa said he had submitted his resignation to the army in 2014 and it was denied.

Egyptian security forces have so far killed hundreds of terrorists and arrested thousands of suspects during the country's anti-terror war declared by Sisi, the army chief then, following Morsi's ouster in 2013.

Militancy has always been a problem in Sinai, but it spiked dramatically after el-Sissi led the military's 2013 overthrow of elected but divisive Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the mosque attack though.

IS started to scale up its attacks in Sinai from September 2017 onwards, as it started losing territory in Iraq and Syria.

The head of the IS religious police in Sinai had previously said that Sufis who did not "repent" would be killed.

In November past year, militants detonated a bomb inside a crowded mosque in the Sinai Peninsula and then sprayed gunfire on panicked worshippers as they fled, killing at least 305 people and wounding at least 128 others.

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