Egyptian army forces in North Sinai destroyed an "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) boat as it tried to smuggle weapons through the porous border, killing all those on board, an Egyptian military official said Wednesday (July 19th).
The offensive also destroyed five 4-wheel drive vehicles, two militant hideouts and two workshops for making improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Egypt’s military spokesman Col. Tamer al-Refai said in a statement.
"The Second Field Army’s law enforcement forces in North Sinai are proceeding with their efforts to uproot terrorism and cut off the terrorists' supply routes," al-Refai said.
Army forces have over the past three months carried out successive airstrikes targeting terrorists in Sinai, said Hatem al-Jahmi, a journalist specialising in military affairs.
The airstrikes destroyed 15 four-wheel-drive vehicles and 40 tunnels used for smuggling weapons into Sinai, he told Al-Mashareq.
"The intensive crackdowns on ISIS's hideouts in Sinai have led to a drop in the group's arms stockpiles, prompting ISIS to try to find alternative ways to secure weapons via the sea," he said.
ISIS loses capabilities
ISIS in Sinai "is suffering from isolation, weakness and shortage of money and arms", he said.
This is a result of the losses the group has sustained in Syria and Iraq, he added, which led to the severing of communications among its elements.
Strategic and security expert Maj. Gen. Hossam Swailem said that ISIS’s capabilities in smuggling weapons by sea are very limited given its elements’ lack of experience conducting maritime operations.
"Any future attempt to smuggle weapons by sea will fail because of the Egyptian naval forces' ability to secure the country’s Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea shores," he told Al-Mashareq.
"ISIS in Sinai has lost the ability to engage in military clashes with the army due to its shortage of arms and the group's fear that smuggling more weapons into Sinai would not be possible," he said.