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Army spox reviews developments of Sinai 2018 operation

Sat, Jul. 28, 2018
CAIRO – 28 July 2018: In his first interview with an Egyptian or Arab newspaper, Egypt's Armed Forces Spokesperson, Tamer Refaie, gave an in-depth interview with Al-Ahram Al-Araby weekly magazine on latest developments of the Sinai 2018 Comprehensive Operation.

He also spoke about the reasons for the decline in terrorist acts in Sinai and praised the role of the Egyptian intelligence services in in cutting arms and ammunition supply lines to terrorists.

What has the Sinai 2018 operation accomplished so far?

In regard with the north-east direction:
- Terrorist leaders were targeted in north and central Sinai, and several terrorist hotbeds were identified and destroyed, while a large numbers of terrorists and criminals who were wanted or suspected of supporting terrorists were killed or arrested.
- Destruction of terrorism infrastructure in the North Sinai, such as tunnels, weapons and ammunition stores, improvised explosive devices, vehicles and motorcycles, explosive materials, mines and rockets.
- Recovering state sovereignty in the areas cleared of terrorists and deployment of civilian police to ensure security of these places.
- Securing the previous presidential elections and the secondary exams in North Sinai and the return of students to the University of Arish.
- Securing transportation of commodities to Sinai and movement of people to and from the border governorate.
- Cutting supply to terrorist elements, and preventing smuggling of weapons and ammunition, as well as movement of terrorist elements to the country.

What about the west and south directions?

Large numbers of vehicles loaded with weapons, ammunition and drugs were seized and destroyed. A large numbers of individuals were arrested during attempts to illegally migrate to or from the country, in addition to the elements involved in the drugs smuggling and human trafficking operations which were used to finance terrorism.

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

What are the major stages of Sinai 2018 operation?

There are two main stages: the first stage is the planning, preparation and equipping of forces that was carried out upon the instruction of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, starting from February 9. The second stage included confronting terrorist elements and enhancing security of borders, and it will continue until the achievement of all its goals.

What are the most prominent steps of these stages?

- Collecting information through an intensive plan for careful monitoring of terrorist hotbeds, especially in north and central Sinai, in cooperation with Sinai residents.
- Training of military and police personnel to conduct counter-terrorism operations.
- Intensive drills on the ground between army and police.
- Psychological and moral rehabilitation of the participating forces.
- Conducting frequent security raids against terrorist sites.
- Destroying tunnels used in smuggling and continuing procedures of imposing the buffer zone with the Gaza Strip.

What are the results of Sinai 2018?

Since the launch of the operation in February 2018, army forces killed more than 321 terrorists, confiscated more than 1,000 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), destroyed 548 vehicles, 881 motorcycles, 419 drug plantations, 94.5 tons of narcotics, more than 11 tunnels along Sinai border.

Does Egypt confront random local terrorist groups or externally supported elements?

Certainly, terrorist groups in Egypt receive support from external powers, whether funding, logistical or information support. These external powers aim at undermining the security and stability of the country.

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

What are the precautions adopted by the armed forces to ensure safety of civilians during military operations?

The armed forces always abide to rules, regulations and standards of human rights and provide full protection for civilians in all areas of security confrontations. The armed forces also coordinate with all state institutions to provide commodities supply, health care and social services to residents of Sinai.

What are the measures adopted by armed forces to cut external support of terrorist groups in Sinai?

The armed forces continue the imposition of the buffer zone on the north-east border, destroying a large number of tunnels in this area. We also imposed a complete siege on terrorist strongholds in the north and central Sinai, with tightening of security measures at border crossings and roads leading to the Sinai Peninsula to prevent movement of terrorist elements coming from other governorates. Naval forces restored their control over the Sinai coast in the Mediterranean and Red Sea to prevent smuggling and illegal migration, especially from Rafah and El-Arish.

Did the external support of extremist elements in Sinai decline recently?

Of course, it declined significantly recently due to the success of the monitoring and intelligence operations, and the deployment of forces across the governorate.

What is the estimated number of terrorists in Sinai currently?

There is certainly a significant decline in the number of terrorists in Sinai after the successful strikes of the armed forces in the comprehensive confrontation. The armed forces also succeeded in eliminating most of the main terrorist leaders. We can notice that the numbers of terrorists who are killed or arrested are decreasing gradually and their ability to carry out terrorist operations also declined considerably.

An Egyptian troop securing a public facility

Are the military statements sufficient to respond to rumors and fake news about the situation in Sinai?

The military statements play an important role in raising awareness of public opinion about the real situation in Sinai. We present all important information about the military operation with full transparency and credibility. However, some anti-state media outlets release fake news to incite terrorists to fight against the Egyptian army and police, therefore we always call for media outlets to ensure accuracy in covering 'Sinai 2018’ and urge reporters to use only official outlets as sources.

What are the purposes of joint maneuvers and exercises between the Egyptian armed forces and some sister and friendly countries?

Since the beginning of the comprehensive operation "Sinai 2018" in February, the Egyptian armed forces carried out 11 joint maneuvers, including eight joint exercises with foreign countries (four with France and other four with USA, Spain, Britain, Cyprus, and Greece), and three exercises with Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain. These trainings aim at exchanging experience in planning, organizing and implementing of military activities, developing skills of participating elements and their ability to carry out tactical tasks to secure vital places and counter threats.

After the completion of the Sinai 2018, how do the armed forces prepare for the development of Sinai?

President al-Sisi instructed the armed forces to speed the implementation of development projects in Sinai to improve the social conditions of the border governorate. The Armed Forces Engineering Authority was assigned to implement 290 projects in Sinai at a cost of LE 175 billion, of which 134 projects have been completed.
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