One month since the start of the comprehensive military operation ‘Sinai 2018’, Egypt’s official spokesperson for the Armed Forces Tamer al-Refaie said in a press conference on Thursday that 105 “takfiris” (militants) have been killed in the counter-terrorist operation, which began on February 9.
He used the Arabic word “takfiri” to refer to extremists who accuse other Muslims of being non-believers, as a justification to use violence against them.
On the expected length of the operation, Refaie noted that there is no time limit and that it will conclude when its goals are achieved, he added that 16 army personnel have been killed and 19 others were injured during the operations.
He further explained that the armed forces participating in the operation have located and destroyed five tunnels, two communication and broadcast centres, 41 four-wheel-drive, 387 motorbikes, and 471 IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).
On the arrests, he noted that 461 people have been arrested while trying to illegally migrate, while another 2,829 people were arrested for being wanted in criminal cases, or on suspicion of providing logistical assistance to the militants.
“Many of those arrested have been released after being cleared of any charges,” Refaie said.
The army has also destroyed 1,907 targets used for shelter by terrorists, as well as storehouses containing medical equipment, weapons, ammunition, mines, and materials used in manufacturing IEDs, according to Refaie.
In response to the increasing terrorist threat in North Sinai, the ‘Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018’ was launched on February 9 by different branches of the army, including the Second and Third Field Armies located in Sinai.
The operation aimed to implement the plan of comprehensive confrontation of terrorist and criminal elements and organisations in North and Central Sinai, and in other areas in the Nile Delta and desert areas west of the Nile Valley, according to an army statement released at the time.
An army source who preferred to remain anonymous told Egypt Independent on February 11 that “the number of forces participating in the ‘Sinai 2018′ reached 35,000 [army personnel] with the support of Egypt’s Special Forces and police.”
The source added that “the operation aims to eliminate the presence of the Islamic State-affiliated (IS) Sinai Province. The widespread [distribution] of the Egyptian Armed Forces in the Sinai will leave no presence to a single militant.”
Since 2014, North Sinai has witnessed a growing number of terrorist attacks carried out by IS the Sinai Province, including various attacks against the army and the police.