FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

29 Islamic State Allies Reportedly Killed by Egypt as Sinai Fighting Heats Up

Tuesday's operation is the latest fighting to erupt between the Egyptian military and the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai.
September 8, 2015, 8:18pm
Photo via EPA

Violence continued in the Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday, as 29 insurgents loyal to the Islamic State and two members of Egypt's military were killed in renewed fighting, according to the Egyptian military. Four other members of the military were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded during a raid.

Operation Right of the Martyr, which Egypt launched at dawn on Tuesday, is intended to "purge and prosecute terrorist elements," the military said in a statement. Yesterday, the Islamic State-affiliated group, Sinai Province, released a video claiming to show a series of attack on Egyptian military targets.

Advertisement

The Egyptian military often releases high death toll numbers of militants they say they have killed in the Sinai, although as AFP points out, it is often difficult to independently verify their claims.

Tuesday's operation is the latest in a simmering anti-government insurgency that has been taking place in the Sinai since 2013, after the military deposed of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

Related: Video Shows Egyptian Warship Ablaze After Attack Claimed by Islamic State Affiliate

The Islamic State-allied group that calls itself "Sinai Province," and was previously known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks on Egyptian security forces in the Sinai since 2013. The group has significantly increased the scope and sophistication of their attacks this summer, killing dozens of Egyptian military members and civilians in coordinated attacks throughout the area. In July, Egypt said more than 100 IS-affiliated fighters were killed in intense clashes with the military, which marked the worst violence to take place in the Sinai in years.

The Egyptian government has responded to Sinai Province's activities with crushing force, which they say is intended to bring much-needed stability to the area.

But others say that the violence has hurt civilians in the area more than the militants, who have continued their bloody campaign against the state despite the military's campaign, which began two years ago.

Advertisement

Tarek Mansour, an international relations professor at Harvard University, told Al-Jazeera in July that the violence in the Sinai is "one of the most tense and unstable periods in Egypt's modern history."

Last month, an entire family of five was killed when their house was shelled in northern Sinai, which the military blamed on militants.

Tuesday's clashes come five days after a bomb explosion in northeast Sinai injured six peacekeeping troops, including four Americans. A US military spokesman said the soldiers were evacuated to a nearby medical facility to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Related: Egypt Turns to France for Weapons With US Still Wary of Delivering Military Aid

The troops were members of the Multinational Force of Observers (MFO), an international peacekeeping coalition that has been stationed in the Sinai since 1982 to monitor the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

The bombing demonstrates the vulnerability of MFO members in the Sinai, who are not equipped to protect themselves from IS, Martin Reardon, a counter-terrorism expert in the region, told Fox News.

"They have bunkers there, but nothing to stop ISIS," Reardon said.

The Islamists say their insurgency is in response to President Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi's brutal crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood, which has resulted in the death and arrest of thousands since 2013.

Watch VICE News' documentary Egypt Under Sisi: