Egypt army raids ISIS hideouts in Sinai

By Ahmed al-Sharqawi in Cairo


Egyptian residents and emergency personnel gather at the site of a car bomb explosion that targeted a police station in North Sinai's provincial capital of el-Arish on April 12th, 2015. [Stringer/AFP]

The Egyptian army has killed two Ansar Beyt el-Maqdis -- the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) arm in North Sinai -- leaders and five other elements in a Monday (August 28th) raid on the group's hideouts in northern Sinai.

Army forces destroyed a tunnel and 14 ISIS hideouts in the operation, said armed forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Tamer al-Refai.

The army seized materials used in making explosives, military uniforms, communication devices, computers, weapons, ammunition and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and destroyed eight vehicles and four motorcycles.

On Wednesday, the army also arrested five suspected of providing support to ISIS.

They were aboard two vehicles in central Sinai and had large sums of money in their possession, an army statement said.

"The two [ISIS] leaders who were killed were overseeing the smuggling of weapons to ISIS elements in Sinai to use them in carrying out operations against the police and army," said strategic expert Maj. Gen. Jalal Abdul Hadi.

Tribes provide intelligence to army

The latest operation aims to tighten the noose on ISIS in Sinai as part of a military plan to intensify security patrols along the border, he told Al-Mashareq.

"The army’s strikes were preceded by intelligence gathering operations conducted in co-operation with Sinai’s tribes who have lived in those areas for decades," he said.

Abdul Hadi said the tribes have provided the army with crucial information that helped it uncover many hideouts and tunnels used by ISIS elements for lodging and for smuggling weapons.

"The information has greatly contributed to the success of the army’s operations to clear Sinai of extremists and terrorists," he said, adding that this has been reflected in the heavy losses sustained by ISIS recently.

One of the main Sinai tribes that have provided support to the army is al-Tarabeen, which announced in April it would help the army fight ISIS, he said.

"Al-Rumaylat, al-Sawarka, al-Tayaha and al-Fawakhiriya tribes soon followed suit," he said.

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