The Egyptian Armed Forces declared that 19 militants were killed and one member of army personnel was martyred during operations on Monday, the third day of retaliation against the Zagdan checkpoint attack on Saturday. Following this attack, the armed forces launched a wide-reaching retaliation operation against Islamic State (IS)-affiliated group “Sinai Province” locales in North Sinai.
Airstrikes began Monday at dawn, targeting militant group locales based on information that was obtained from state intelligence and collaboration with North Sinai locals and Bedouins, according to official army spokesperson Mohamed Samir.
“With the aid of airstrikes carried out by the air force and contributions to artillery by the infantry, our brave conscripts succeeded in destroying 31 stationing points owned by takfiri [Islamists], and killing 19 militants. One member of army personnel was martyred,” the spokesperson’s statement read.
The armed forces’ retaliation operations began on Sunday. According to the spokesperson, the first day of the operation left 18 militants and three army personnel dead, and two other personnel injured.
On Sunday, “Sinai Province” declared responsibility for the attack on Zagdan checkpoint in Bir El-Abd, Al-Arish city, which left 12 army conscripts dead and six other personnel injured. The group also published photos of militants firing at conscripts stationed at the checkpoint. One of the photos shows a conscript lying on the ground after being struck by heavy gunfire.
The photos show that Zagdan checkpoint, located in an empty desert area south of Bir El-Abd, was insufficiently fortified. Another photo shows a tank being struck by a missile, allegedly from the same attack.
These photos were released after the army spokesperson affirmed that the forces stationed at the checkpoint succeeded in killing 15 of the militant attackers during the attack itself.
Following Friday’s attack, the army pledged retaliation for the blood of the killed conscripts and airstrikes were quickly launched against “Sinai Province”. According to the armed forces, the targets and locations of the airstrikes were based on intelligence and other information provided by Bedouin residents in the peninsula.
Over the past six months, the army’s violent confrontations with “Sinai Province” militants have become more frequent. Attacks have varied between direct armed attacks on checkpoints or assassinations against army and police personnel. The group has been using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against armoured vehicles on a near daily basis.
Deaths of state security personnel in these attacks are generally limited in scale. Of course, at times, larger scale attacks have taken place like the attack on Al-Safa police checkpoint in March which left 15 personnel dead. “Sinai Province” issued a statement, claiming that the attack was retribution for Muslim women being subjected to degrading inspections at military checkpoints.
Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, is a major hurdle for Egypt’s current regime in regaining control of the peninsula as the militant group continuously targets army and police members whom they consider “apostates” that must be killed.