Egypt is striking back after militants killed nearly two dozen soldiers in the Sinai peninsula. Friday’s attack at a checkpoint in the northeastern Sinai was the deadliest on the military this year.
Now, Egypt’s army and air force have launched attacks on ISIL strongholds.
CGTN’s Adel El Mahrouky has more.
ISIL has used the usual attacking tactic it previously used in several check points before. A suicide bomb attack near the Army forces took place at first. As troops rushed to the scene another bomb was waiting for them as bait, then the rest of the militant clashed with security forces.
“This is the second biggest attack for the group since 2015, when more than one hundred militants tried to control a village in North Sinai,” Mustafa Amin, a researcher at the Arab Centre for Studies said. “I think ISIL is trying to show off, to say that it still has the power to perform a big operation that can inflict massive damage to the army. But it turned out as a catastrophe for the group.”
The Egyptian Army had learned the lesson. In a statement its spokesman said that its forces have killed 40 of the attackers. And since Friday morning Air Forces and ground troops have been chasing the rest of the perpetrators, targeting their hideouts and weapons warehouses.
“The Army has faced the usual number of casualties for in such big operations–around two dozen– but its loss is not a big problem,” Amin said. “What’s more important is the number of fighters ISIL lost. Forty militants killed is four fighter cells for the group, and each cell takes years to train. This operation is a strong hit on the group and could freeze or limit its operations for months to come.”
The check point attacked this time is one of the main army clusters that isolates North Sinai from the Central and South Sinai region. It’s not the first attack in that region, an indication, analysts said, that the militants may be trying to move the fight away from the usual conflict zone in the North.
Egypt believes that the Rafah border has been the main source of arms supplies to militants in Sinai. Hamas has recently agreed to create a buffer zone from Gaza’s side, and that may significantly interrupt this flow of arms into Egypt and could finally make Egyptian officials feel they’re making progress, particularly now that the army has inflicted massive losses on ISIL after the attack.