The Egyptian military killed over 100 Daesh militants in a three-hour airstrike Saturday in retaliation for an attack at a North Sinai checkpoint that left 12 Egyptian troops dead. Cairo’s Army destroyed the fundamentalists’ armories and outposts in the offensive as well.
In a public statement, Cairo’s military said, “An armed group of terrorist elements attacked a security checkpoint in North Sinai this morning using four-wheel drives and were immediately engaged. Our forces killed 15 terrorists.”
The Egyptian Air Force conducted the strike south of Sheikh Zuweid and near Rafah.
There are reports that some of the radicals attempted to escape in all-terrain vehicles while under fire from Egypt’s F-16 fighter jets. Saturday’s strike is one of largest carried out against Daesh by Cairo in recent months.
Friday’s terror attack took place 25 miles from Bir al-Abd, the first incident in the Central Sinai region, an area that has remained relatively free from jihadist control until now. Daesh took responsibility for the action that killed 12 Egyptian troops and wounded six, who were treated at at a hospital in Al-Arish.
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi consoled the victim’s families and posted a message on Facebook saying, “the blood of the nation of Egypt was spilled in the sands of Sinai only increases the desire and determination to complete the campaign (against the terrorists).”
After the attack, the fundamentalists released a statement claiming, “A number of the caliphate’s soldiers have launched an attack on a checkpoint belonging to the apostate Egyptian army south of Bir al-Abd that killed over 20 apostates and injured more.”
Religious extremists first gained a foothold in Sinai Peninsula after President Mohamed Mursi was overthrown in 2013 in the midst of fierce protest against his administration. Mursi was a member of the Islamic Brotherhood, Cairo’s longest-standing Islamic organization, and his ousting created a void that allowed Islamist insurgents to become a presence. After the coup, the group pledged allegiance to Daesh.
al-Sissi told Egyptian newspapers that the fight against won’t be ending anytime soon, but he was optimistic about Cairo’s efforts. He said “Conditions in Sinai are improving and (our) efforts are continuing because the war is long.”