Egypt’s Armed Forces spokesman Tamer al-Refeai denied on Tuesday the authenticity of news reports claiming an airstrike conducted by a military fighter mistakenly shelled a military stationing point in North Sinai’s Al-Arish.
Meanwhile, according to the 11th statement released by Refaei since the initiation of ‘Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018’, four militants were killed and a media center operated by militants had been destroyed, while 112 suspects were arrested as security operations continued.
The statement explained that eight ‘targets’ – used by militants as hideouts to escape sweeping operations carried out by security forces – had been destroyed, in addition to artillery shelling of 179 targets belonging to militants.
The continued airstrikes began on February 9 and have seen the destruction of a number of weapons storages and logistic support zones belonging to militants.
The operation is being conducted with participation of various branches of the Egyptian Armed Forces, including the Second and Third Field Armies located in Sinai.
An army source who preferred to remain anonymous told Egypt Independent on February 11 that “the number of forces are participating in the ‘Sinai 2018′ operation reached 35,000 [army personnel] with the support of Egypt’s Special Forces and police.”
The source added that “the operation aims to eliminate the presence of the Islamic State-affiliated (IS) group Sinai Province. The widespread [distribution] of the Egyptian Armed Forces in the Sinai will leave no presence to a single militant.”
Since 2014, North Sinai has seen an increase in conflict between security forces and the Sinai Province — a group which was previously known as ‘Ansar Beit al-Maqdis’ before it declared its allegiance to IS. The group has launched several violent attacks against army and police checkpoints, as well as civilian targets, in North Sinai cities.
North Sinai-based state security has carried out large-scale security sweeps and military operations in response.