Egypt’s airstrikes hit Sinai terrorist dens in anti-terror raids

The Egyptian air forces carried out raids and pounded terrorist dens in North Sinai province as part of the “Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018,” the Egyptian army said in a statement on Saturday.

“Since last night until early morning, the air forces continued carrying out several intensified air raids against terrorist dens and hideouts detected in North and Central Sinai,” said the statement.

The raids targeted warehouses of arms, ammunition and explosives as well as areas of logistic support to the terrorists, the statement added.

Meanwhile, the air forces continued securing the country’s border regions “in all strategic directions,” while border guards and naval forces were also securing navigation in the Suez Canal international waterway.

“Simultaneously, the armed forces in cooperation with the police carried out several raids in different areas of inside cities in North and Central Sinai,” the statement said.

Egypt launched the “Sinai 2018” counterterrorism operation on Friday to eliminate terrorism in North Sinai province bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip as well as other parts across the country.

When the campaign started on Friday, the armed forces raided terrorist hideouts in North Sinai’s cities of Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid while the police killed three militants in Cairo and arrested 14 suspects in several provinces.

North Sinai has been the center of terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers following the military removal of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 in response to mass protests.

They later extended to several other provinces including Cairo and started to target the Coptic minority via church bombings and shootings.

Terrorists even attacked a mosque in North Sinai’s Arish city last November, killing at least 310 Muslim worshippers and injuring more than 120 others, marking the deadliest terror attack and the first against a mosque in Egypt’s modern history.

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) regional terrorist group. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the mosque attack though.

Following the mosque attack, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ordered the army to restore security and stability in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula within three months.

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.

The comprehensive anti-terror operation “Sinai 2018” comes weeks before Egypt starts its 2018 presidential elections scheduled for late March, 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.