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.


US approves $3.8 billion F-16 sale to Morocco

Updated 11 min 58 sec ago
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US approves $3.8 billion F-16 sale to Morocco

WASHINGTON:  The United States on Monday approved the sale of 25 F-16 fighter aircraft to Morocco for $3.8 billion, the State Department announced.
Besides the new Block 70/72 F-16s, equipped with state of the art electronic systems and weaponry, Washington also approved the modernization of 23 F-16s already in the Moroccan air force fleet, for $983 million.
The State Department said the sale would not affect the balance of forces in the region.
It can still be blocked by the US Congress, which has 30 days to raise any objections.
More than 4,500 of the Lockheed Martin-built F-16s have been delivered since 1978.
It is gradually being replaced by the stealth F-35 fighters but more than 3,000 of F-16s are still in use in 25 countries, thanks to constant upgrades.
The Moroccan military ordered 24 F-16s in 2008. It lost one aircraft in action in 2015 during Saudi-led air operations in Yemen.