Egyptian Army kill ISIS top commander, fighters in Sinai

Photo: ISIS fighters with their flag

The Egyptian military reported that it has killed the head of the Sinai branch of self declared Islamic State (ISIS), along with dozens of its fighters.

It said Abu Duaa al-Ansari was killed in a series of air strikes on fighters of the Sinai Province – or Ansar Beit al-Maqdis – group.

The air strikes targeted jihadist strongholds near the town of El-Arish.

Sinai Province is Egypt’s most active insurgent group and has been linked to deadly attacks in Sinai and Cairo.

The Egyptian military said: “The raids left more than 45 terrorists killed, dozens of others injured and several arms caches destroyed.”

Brig-Gen Mohammed Samir said in a posting on Facebook that Ansari was killed in an operation guided by “accurate intelligence”.
The posting did not say when the operation was carried out.

The air strikes were on southern and south-western areas of El-Arish, the largest town in northern Sinai.

The jihadist group, which has been active in the Sinai peninsula since 2011, has not commented on the army’s statement.

Islamist militancy has risen in Egypt since the army deposed President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

Sinai Province has served as a haven for Egypt’s most dangerous insurgents.

The militant group was originally called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem), but changed its name after it pledged allegiance to self declared Islamic State in November 2014.

It began its militancy activities with rocket attacks on Israel but refocused on targeting Egyptian security forces after the removal of President Morsi in 2013.

Its aim is thought to be to take control of the Sinai peninsula in order to turn it into an Islamist province.

In October 2014, the militant group carried out its deadliest attacks, killing of 33 security personnel in North Sinai.

The number of active members is believed to be between 1,000 and 1,500 with its cells believed to be in Cairo, Giza and the Western Desert.

A recent survey conducted by London-based Al-Araby al-Jadid news website said the group had carried out more than 31 attacks in various areas across Sinai within just a two-week period in March 2016.

The group is also a prolific producer of propaganda videos.

On Wednesday, a video said to be from the ISIS Sinai affiliate issued a rare direct threat to Israel, saying it would soon “pay a high price”.

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