Egypt says top militant killed

Updated 01 August 2015
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Egypt says top militant killed

CAIRO: Egyptian armed forces killed a leading member of the country’s Daesh affiliate in a shootout outside his North Sinai home, the army spokesman said in a statement on Saturday.
Selim Suleiman Al-Haram, identified in the statement as a leader of the militant group known as Sinai Province, was asked to turn himself in by a group of soldiers that surrounded his house in the town of Sheikh Zuweid, the army said.
He refused, opening fire on the troops and attempting to blow himself up before being shot dead, the army said.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian court postponed its verdict expected on Saturday in the trial of Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s brother and 66 others accused of forming a “terrorist group” to carry out attacks.State news agency MENA said the court in Cairo would announce its verdict on August 10 to allow for “further deliberations.”
Mohamed Al-Zawahiri was arrested in August 2013.
Egypt is battling an increasingly brazen insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has killed hundreds of police officers and soldiers since the army toppled President Muhammad Mursi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi has said militancy poses an existential threat to Egypt, the most populous Arab country.
Sinai Province, which has pledged allegiance to Daesh, claimed responsibility last week for a bombing that the army said killed four soldiers near Rafah, a town on the border with the Gaza Strip.
The group claimed responsibility earlier this month for a rocket attack on an Egyptian naval vessel near the coast of Israel and Gaza, less than a week after claiming a bombing in Cairo that heavily damaged the Italian Consulate.


US believes Daesh likely responsible for Manbij blast

Updated 1 min 38 sec ago
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US believes Daesh likely responsible for Manbij blast

  • US government sources say the Pentagon and other national agencies are investigating the bombing
  • This is one of the deadliest attacks on US forces in Syria since their deployment in 2015
WASHINGTON: The US government believes the Daesh militant group is likely responsible for Wednesday’s attack in northern Syria that killed four Americans, although it has not reached a firm conclusion, two US government sources said on Thursday.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon and other US agencies were investigating who carried out the attack in Manbij, Syria.
Officials studying the incident are not dismissing Daesh’s claim of responsibility for the blast, which killed two US troops and two civilians working for the US military, and regard it as plausible if not likely, one of the sources said.
The attack occurred nearly a month after President Donald Trump confounded his own national security team with a surprise decision on Dec. 19 to withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria, declaring Daesh had been defeated there.
The Manbij attack appeared to be the deadliest on US forces in Syria since they deployed on the ground there in 2015 and it took place in a town controlled by a militia allied to US-backed Kurdish forces.
If Daesh carried out the attack, that would undercut assertions, including by US Vice President Mike Pence several hours after the blast on Wednesday, that the militant group has been defeated.
Experts do not believe Daesh has been beaten despite its having lost almost all of the territory it held in 2014 and 2015 after seizing parts of Syria and Iraq and declaring a “caliphate.”
While the group’s footprint has shrunk, experts believe it is far from a spent force and can still conduct guerilla-style attacks. A Daesh statement on Wednesday said a Syrian suicide bomber had detonated his explosive vest in Manbij.
Trump’s Dec. 19 announcement was one of the reasons his former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, resigned. It stunned allies and raised fears of a long-threatened Turkish military offensive against US-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
How and when US forces leave has deepened uncertainty in northern Syria, with Turkey and Syrian President Bashar Assad ready to fill the vacuum.
The US-backed YPG militia that is allied to the fighters holding Manbij last month invited Assad into the area around the town to forestall a potential Turkish assault. Syrian army troops entered the area soon after.
The YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces vowed on Thursday to ramp up attacks on Daesh remnants.