Seven soldiers, 71 militants killed in Egypt Sinai operations

A view from the western Gaza strip border town of Rafah shows a smoke plume rising on the Egyptian side of the border following an explosion. Egypt closed its border with the Gaza Strip after Cairo launched a major operation against jihadists in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula. (AFP)
Updated 23 February 2018
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Seven soldiers, 71 militants killed in Egypt Sinai operations

CAIRO: Seven Egyptian soldiers and 71 militants have been killed since the launch of a wide-ranging operation to quell an Daesh group affiliate in Sinai earlier this month, the military said.
“As a result of the heroic combat operations by our armed forces...seven heroes of the armed forces were martyred,” military spokesman Col. Tamer Rifai said at a press conference aired Thursday on state television.
“71 extremists have been killed and five arrested,” he said.
Rifai added that 1,852 other suspects have been rounded up in the operation that began on February 9, following an ultimatum by the President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to end the deadly insurgency.
IS attacks have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula. The group has also killed over 100 Christians in the past year and targeted tourists.
Sissi ordered his security commanders to put an end to the attacks following a massacre at a northern Sinai mosque in November that killed more than 300 worshippers.
IS is believed to have carried out the attack on the mosque, frequented by Sufi Muslims, but it has not claimed responsibility.
The group’s Egyptian branch has used the north of the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel, as a staging ground for its attacks.
Officials say IS has tried to move fighters to Sinai following defeats in Iraq and Syria, where it has lost most of its territory.
Egypt is holding a presidential election next month, which Sissi is expected to easily win.


Lebanon says it foiled plots to stage attacks in May

Updated 56 min 8 sec ago
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Lebanon says it foiled plots to stage attacks in May

  • The attacks were planned from Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province and were timed to coincide with Lebanon’s general election, the interior minister said
  • Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces monitored the plot and thwarted it, he said

BEIRUT: Lebanon foiled a plot by militants based in Syria to carry out two attacks this year against places of worship and Lebanese army positions, Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said on Monday.
The attacks were planned from Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province and were timed to coincide with Lebanon’s general election that took place in May, he said in a televised news conference.
Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces monitored the plot and thwarted it, he said. The country remains safe for both residents and visitors, he added.
Lebanese authorities say they have disrupted or foiled numerous attacks in recent years, including some linked to the conflict in neighboring Syria. From 2013-2016 militants struck Lebanon repeatedly with bomb attacks
Idlib province is part of the last remaining stronghold in Syria outside government control and much of it is held by extremist rebel groups including the country’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Lebanon shares power among its religious sects and has maintained a “dissociation” policy of staying out of regional conflicts.
However, Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah has played a key military role in Syria supporting President Bashar Assad against mostly Sunni rebels seeking to oust him.