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.


UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

US Deputy United Nations Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, left, address the UN Security Council after a report from UN chief mediator for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, shown center in a live video broadcast, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 at UN headquarters. (AP)
Updated 21 November 2018
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UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

  • Staffan de Mistura said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members

NEW YORK: The UN is still aiming to send invitations to 150 Syrians by mid-December to participate in a committee that would draft a new constitution for Syria, which is key to holding elections and ending the country’s civil war, a UN envoy said on Monday.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, told the Security Council that the UN also aims to hold the committee’s first meeting before Dec. 31.
But de Mistura said the Syrian regime is objecting to 50 members of the committee representing civil society, experts, independents, tribal leaders and women that he was authorized to put together at a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in Sochi on Jan. 30.
Under the Sochi agreement, the committee is to comprise 150 members. There is already agreement on the 50-member delegation from the regime and the 50-member delegation from the opposition.
But de Mistura warned that if there is no agreement on the remaining members, the UN may have to conclude that it is not possible to form a “credible and inclusive” constitutional committee at this stage.
He said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members. But de Mistura said they must “maintain the same spirit of credibility, balance and international legitimacy,” and he stressed that the list cannot be filled with political leaders who are already represented.
The UN envoy said that at his last briefing to the Security Council in December “it will be my duty to explain where we are on the constitutional committee, and leave a clean and clear ground to my successor regarding it.”
De Mistura was supposed to step down at the end of December but UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday he will be staying on “for a bit longer” to make sure there is no gap “at an extremely critical time in the Syria talks.”