Egypt army gains ground against ISIS in North Sinai

By Ahmed al-Sharqawi in Cairo


Egyptian forces destroyed an 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' vehicle in North Sinai as part of its 'Martyr's Right' offensive. [Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Armed Forces Media Centre]

One month after the Egyptian army kicked off the fourth phase of operation "Martyr’s Right" in North Sinai, dozens of extremists have been killed and many of their hideouts destroyed.

The operation, launched over a year ago, seeks to eliminate "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) presence from North Sinai.

In the past month, the army has killed 56 ISIS elements, arrested 18 others, destroyed 23 vehicles, four motorcycles, four vehicles packed with explosives and 52 hideouts used by the group, an army statement said.

Additionally, over 100 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and eight workshops used by ISIS for making explosives have been destroyed, it said.

"Operation Martyr’s Right started about a year ago to besiege the areas where terrorism has spread in Sinai with the aim of rooting out ISIS," said Maj. Gen. Tharwat al-Nusairi, a military expert and advisor at Nasser Military Academy.

The government aims to reconstruct these areas after clearing them of militants, he told Al-Mashareq.

"Ground, naval and air forces are taking part in these operations to ensure full control, besiege ISIS elements and cut their supply routes and communications," he said.

"The army is currently carrying out the fourth phase of the operation," he said, adding that it is "the most critical and dangerous" as it involves direct confrontations with ISIS elements and raids on their hideouts.

"In the first three phases, the army carried out airstrikes against ISIS hideouts after monitoring the movements of its elements," al-Nusairi said.

The fourth phase involves simultaneous ground combing operations of Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah and al-Arish to cut the routes of ISIS elements and prevent them from escaping, especially after all extremist hideouts in Jebel al-Halal were eliminated, he said.

"The army is now in full control on the ground, so ISIS elements are resorting to swift operations involving sniper attacks or vehicles packed with explosives," he added.

The recent operations have been characterised by intensive aerial coverage and in-depth intelligence support which contributed to more accurate airstrikes on targets and less casualties among civilians, he said.

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It needs to be shown that this war is only happening in one of the twenty-seven governorates and not all over Egypt