As military forces continue to sweep areas surrounding the main cities of North Sinai, namely Al-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah, two military personnel were killed in action raising the number of casualties since the start of operation ‘Retribution of the Martyr’ last week.
The military has been announcing daily results of the campaign in statements published by the army’s media affairs sector. On Tuesday, the results of the ninth day were released confirming the death of 55 militants in exchange of fire with the force, and the arrest of 35 others.
The statement also continued to list numbers of destroyed cars, motorcycles, as well as numbers of confiscated arms and explosives.
Last week, the most active militant group in the area, “State of Sinai”, published pictures on social media accounts of their affiliated members, showing militants posing near destroyed Humvees allegedly belonging to the Egyptian army. “Soldiers of the Islamic State attacked cars of the apostate army,” the statement said.
The photos also showed militants shooting machine guns against army targets, a destroyed tank, and the back of a military Humvee stained with blood, as well as photos of militants on top of cars waving the black “Islamic State” flag.
Due to lack of independent news reporting in the Sinai Peninsula, information about the status of civilians in the areas where clashes are occurring is channelled only through individual local journalists.
At the beginning of the week, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said that media should focus on covering operation “Retribution for the Martyr”.
The air force, special forces and naval units are partaking in the operation, which aims to purge an Islamist militant insurgency that has been active mainly in North Sinai since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in July 2013.
Newsletters by the Egyptian army have been circulating in state media and pro-state outlets, with direct praising of the Egyptian army and its “sacrifices” in the operations. However, local media rarely report on civilian casualties.
On Wednesday, Dar Al-Ifta released a report about the role of national armies in “countering terrorism”. The report was issued by Dar Al-Ifta’s Fatwa Monitoring Observatory, which took case studies of the armies in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. It concluded that the crisis in the three countries would not have escalated if national armies did not collapse.