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Isolated Sinai Dreams of an Imminent Demise to ISIS

Isolated Sinai Dreams of an Imminent Demise to ISIS

Tuesday, 13 February, 2018 - 08:45
Egyptian forces launched a major assault against terrorists in northern Sinai. (AFP)
Northern Sinai (Egypt) – Asharq Al-Awsat
Deserted streets, empty markets low on basic needs and fuel, and a virtual communications shutdown. The eerie quiet on the streets is interrupted by the sound of explosions and overhead jets.

This is the daily life of the cities of northern Sinai in Egypt as authorities launched last week a comprehensive operation “Sinai 2018” to eliminate terrorists holed up in the area.

The campaign was launched on Friday after a three-month deadline, announced by President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to restore security in the region, ended.

Despite the daily hardships experienced by the locals, residents, merchants and lawmakers expressed to Asharq Al-Awsat their perseverance and faith that the security operation will be a success.

Northern Sinai has over the years transformed into a terrorist hotbed that includes the “Ansar Beit al-Maqdis” that announced its allegiance to ISIS in 2014. It has since changed its name to Sinai State.

The Bir al-Abed area in northern Sinai witnessed in November 2017 the worst terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history when gunmen shot and killed over 305 worshipers. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Central Sinai MP Jazi Saad told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The current operation launched by the armed forces and police differs than its predecessors.”

He said that it has so far made advances in eliminating the terrorists in the area.

“The residents of Sinai have waited for a long time to be liberated from the terrorists. They have been patient and persevered a lot,” he stressed.

He said that despite their suffering due to the terrorists and the current shutdown in Sinai, they remain optimistic that the operation will be a success.

Authorities have barred any travel inside and outside of the province. Exceptions have been made to students and medical emergencies.

A resident, Moussa al-Manei, told Asharq Al-Awsat that witnesses informed him that the heavy strike against the terrorist groups in the Shabana region was a “life line to dozens of locals.”

He explained that the terrorists had imprisoned the locals and several of them have since escaped from their clutches.

Locals in al-Sheikh Zuweid revealed on condition of anonymity that the ISIS strongholds of al-Ajra, Abou Lafita, al-Rasm and Dawwar Rafia have come under unprecedented strikes by the military.

The armed forces announced on Monday that 12 takfiri members were killed in a shootout in northern Sinai, while 92 fugitives have been arrested in various regions.

The army destroyed 60 terrorist targets and 27 motorcycles and seized 20 vehicles that were used in terror crimes. It also discovered a warehouse for manufacturing explosives.

It also discovered and detonated 23 explosives that were planted in the military’s area of operations. Thirteen underground hideouts were also revealed.

Recent statistics said that 6,700 families, totaling more than 26,000 people, were forced to flee terrorism in Northern Sinai between 2013 and 2017.

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