450 militants killed in Egypt Sinai offensive: army

A military vehicle drives through northern Sinai. (Reuters)
Updated 16 October 2018
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450 militants killed in Egypt Sinai offensive: army

  • The military launched a large-scale operation dubbed “Sinai 2018” in February to rid Sinai of Daesh militants
  • Since the start of the campaign, 450 militants were presumed to have been killed “in the north and the center of Sinai"

CAIRO: The Egyptian army said Tuesday that 450 jihadists are estimated to have been killed in its eight-month offensive against the Daesh group in the Sinai Peninsula.
The military launched a large-scale operation dubbed “Sinai 2018” in February to rid Sinai of Daesh militants after an attack on a mosque in the north of the peninsula that killed more than 300 people.
Since the start of the campaign, 450 militants were presumed to have been killed “in the north and the center of Sinai by (soldiers) and police,” army spokesman Tamer Al-Rifai told AFP.
According to army figures, around 30 soldiers have been killed during the operation.
Militants began an insurgency in Egypt after the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Muhammad Mursi, who was forced out by the military in the face of mass protests against his rule and that of his Muslim Brotherhood.
The army on Tuesday rejected criticism from rights groups over the impact on civilians of its campaign in Sinai.
It says that people in the peninsula support its operation and receive humanitarian aid.
“All air strikes are carried out by the army outside residential areas,” Rifai said on Tuesday.
Journalists are barred from going to areas targeted in the Sinai 2018 campaign, although the army organized a rare visit to the North Sinai capital El-Arish in July.
A countrywide state of emergency was imposed in April last year, following two suicide bombings at churches which were claimed by Daesh.
On Tuesday, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi extended the measure by a further three months.


Syria's Kurds hand three Russian orphans to Moscow

Updated 25 March 2019
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Syria's Kurds hand three Russian orphans to Moscow

  • Three Russian orphans were handed to a delegation from Moscow who will transfer them back home

QAMISHLI: The Kurdish administration in northeast Syria said Monday it handed over three Russian orphans to a delegation from Moscow who will transfer them back home.
Kurdish foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar said the children, aged five to seven, are being sent back at the request of Russia.
He told AFP their parents had been affiliated with the Daesh group, although it was not immediately clear how or when they arrived in Syria.
A member of the Russian government delegation said the siblings are from the country's North Caucasus region. The majority-Muslim southern territory is home to most of the Russians that joined Daesh.
Nelly Kouskova said the children were orphaned nearly one year ago, without providing details.
Their aunt back in Russia had asked authorities to help bring them home, Kouskova told a press conference.
Since the death of their parents the children have been living in the Al-Hol camp, a Kurdish-run shelter designed to accomodate 20,000 people.
But due to the mass exodus of people fleeing the battle to oust Daesh from its final strip of territory -- over which Kurdish-led forces claimed victory on Saturday -- the numbers have swelled to 70,000.
More than 9,000 foreigners, including over 6,500 children, are being held in the overcrowded camp, the Kurdish administration said on Monday.
Syria's Kurds have repeatedly called for the repatriation of foreign Daesh suspects and their relatives.
But the home countries of suspected Daesh members are reluctant to take them back, due to potential security risks and the likely public backlash.
Russia, however, can be seen as a pioneer in systematically returning children of suspected jihadists home.
Last month, 27 children aged four to 13 were flown from Iraq to the Moscow region. That followed the repatriation from Iraq of 30 children in late December.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in late 2017 called the drive to return the children "a very honourable and correct deed" and promised to help.
Some other foreign governments have also taken steps to bring the children of militants home.
France has repatriated five orphaned children of French militants' from camps in northeast Syria, the government said on March 15, in the first such transfer.
Belgium has said it will help the repatriation of children younger than 10, as long as the link with one Belgian parent is proven.