Egyptian military forces are attacking terrorists in Sinai during the full-scale operation dubbed Sinai 2018 (Egypt's Armed Forces Official Website) Egyptian military forces are attacking terrorists in Sinai during the full-scale operation dubbed Sinai 2018 (Egypt's Armed Forces Official Website)

Military ‘brute force’ secures Sinai, no civilians harmed

Tue, Feb. 13, 2018
CAIRO – 13 February 2018: Since President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi ordered the military and the Ministry of Interior to use “brute force” to regain control and restore security in Sinai, residents of the peninsula and border areas were afraid of possible losses among civilians, but these concerns have proven wrong.

Operation Sinai 2018, launched on Friday in the North Sinai, Central Sinai, Nile Delta and the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya, showed the high efficiency of the Egyptian military and police in combating terrorism threats, without causing any danger to residents. The military operations were even heartwarming to the civilians, who praised the good treatment they experienced from the officers and soldiers, who are spread in the villages of Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah and seized control of the area.

The president’s speech came in response to the Rawda mosque attack near Arish, which killed at least 313 and injured dozens. The attack is deemed to be the deadliest in Egypt’s modern history.

“It is your responsibility to regain control over Sinai in the next three months,” Sisi said, addressing new Chief of Staff Mohamed Farid Hegazy and Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar.

Sinai has been in a state of insurgency following the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. Militants and the security forces have been caught in a crossfire that led to the killing of hundreds from both camps. The state has been attempting to regain control over afflicted North Sinai, along with securing Copts, as security forces in the area have been widely targeted over the past few years.

Sinai 2018
Egyptian military forces are attacking terrorists in Sinai during the full-scale operation dubbed Sinai 2018 (Egypt's Armed Forces Official Website)


Army launches "Sinai 2018"

Army spokesman Colonel Tamer el-Rifai announced in a strongly worded televised statement Friday morning that the military and police forces were initiating a large-scale security operation. He said that, in addition to the northern Sinai Peninsula, this will involve actions in the Nile Delta, Central Sinai and the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya, strongholds of a persistent Islamic State group insurgency that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police.

Operation Sinai 2018 is targeting “terrorist and criminal elements and organizations”, el-Rifai said. He did not say how long it would last, but said that it involved land, sea and air forces. The air force has launched attacks against militant hide-outs in North and Central Sinai, and the navy has tightened control of the waterways to cut off supply lines, he said.

Meanwhile, a source from the Interior Ministry told state agency MENA that the country has raised the security alert to its highest level nationwide, in light of the “fierce war” by the police in coordination with the armed forces to eradicate “the roots of terrorism.”

According to the source, security measures in the vicinity of major state institutions, houses of worship and tourist hotspots have been intensified.

Eyewitnesses applaud military operations

Eyewitnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the air strikes by the Egyptian Air Force were very precise and successfully targeted the terrorist strongholds, without causing any casualties among civilians or damages to homes and facilities.

Another eyewitness from Sheikh Zuwaid said that military operations that targeted terrorists in Syria and Iraq used to cause casualties among civilians by mistake, but Operation Sinai 2018 was carried out accurately from the first moment.

"We have not heard of injuries or deaths among women or children, because the fighter jets' strikes were precise and accurate," the eyewitness stated.

Another resident in Sheikh Zuwaid stressed that the soldiers and officers participating in Sinai 2018 behaved in a good manner with civilians and showed respect for the customs and traditions of the Bedouin community.

He pointed out that most of the clashes and shelling occur in areas that were previously evacuated of civilians and controlled by terrorists, such as the villages of Naja Shaibana, Mahdia, Tuma and others.

Sinai 2018 (2)
Egyptian air force launched airstrikes against terrorists in Sinai during the full-scale operation dubbed Sinai 2018 (Egypt's Armed Forces Official Website)


Activists praise Sinai 2018

Political activist Hassan Hantoush, coordinator of former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi's campaign in North Sinai, wrote on his Facebook page, "I am very happy with the deployment of army and police forces around the city of Sheikh Zuwaid. I am also pleased with officers’ and soldiers' kindness in dealing with civilians."

He added, "The situation in eastern Arish, Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah is almost stable. The areas of Shibana and Chalalfh – uninhabited areas – were shelled."

A member of the Sawarka tribe, Mousa al-Menaii, wrote on Facebook that a number of civilians who were kidnapped by terrorists managed to escape after the security forces tightened the siege on the terrorist group.

Volunteer efforts

A number of volunteers from the Suez Canal cities provided a large number of apartments to receive the stranded Sinai people who could not return due to the start of Operation Sinai 2018. Meanwhile, four apartments were allocated in Arish for the people from outside the province who could not leave the city before the operation.

In addition, four private hospitals in Cairo announced their readiness to offer treatment for any civilian from Sinai during the operation, and have provided two ambulances in Ismailia since Saturday. Meanwhile, a number of traders in Arish announced huge cuts in all commodities' prices during the military operation.
 
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