File Photo: Egyptian army near Al-Arish in the Sinai peninsula (Reuters)
On 16 July, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched the fourth phase of Operation Martyr's Right, which aims to counter militant and terrorist activity in Sinai, 10 days after 26 Egyptian security personnel were killed in an attack in North Sinai’s Rafah city.
During the fourth stage of the operation, the army said that its forces killed 40 militants involved in the 7 July attack.
Army spokesperson Tamer El-Rifaai said that between 17 July and 6 August, the Armed Forces killed 48 militants and arrested 20 suspects believed to have provided logistical support for those who carried out the attack.
Prior to launching the fourth stage of Martyr’s Right, the army conducted four operations that resulted in the destruction of 50 4x4 vehicles, 85 motorcycles, a fuel warehouse, one fuel tanker, 63 militant hideouts and 11 manufacturing workshops.
The military spokesperson has revealed that the current phase of operations involves areas covered by the second and third field armies.
Earlier phases of Martyr’s Right have mostly been restricted to the areas of Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid and El-Arish, which are the deployment site of the second field army. However, a number of operations have extended to Central Sinai in the vicinity of Gabal El-Halal.
The current phase of the operation is targeting static hideouts used by terrorists as well as dynamic militant targets, infrastructure and reinforcement lines
The fourth phase of the operation also involves targeting militants’ organisational infrastructure and destroying shelters, weapons and ammunition storage facilities, vehicles, IED's, and communication centres.
It also involves arresting those who provide militants with logistical support and securing major roads in North Sinai’s Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid, El-Arish and surrounding villages and preventing militant activity from spreading outside these areas, as well as developing counter-tactics to tactics used by militants.
Special units from the army’s counterterrorism forces have also been on the forefront of these operations, while air forces have provided aerial support and conducted recon missions.
The diagram illustrates some details concerning the army operations (Photo: Ahram)
The fourth phase of the operation has also witnessed improved capacity by the army to detect and disarm IEDs planted on roadsides to target security personnel.
Military operations have also expanded to include maritime targets, with the army targeting and destroying sea vessel attempting to enter Egyptian territorial waters.
Despite restrictions against 4x4 vehicles entering Sinai, these vehicles are still heavily used in orchestrating car bomb attacks, which raises a question as to how they are still entering the peninsula.
The arrest of people using motorcycles to transport money to militants reveals that funds are delivered to militant groups using primitive methods.
Smuggling operations and drug trafficking are still taking place on a large scale in Sinai, though the army has been successful in foiling smuggling operations before the contraband reaches Sinai.
Operation Martyr’s Right was first launched in September 2015. Its second and third phases began in January and April 2016.