By Nasser al-Azazi
Police and armed forces launched on Saturday the largest and most violent military operation yet seen in the Sinai Peninsula against militant locations in southern Sheikh Zuweid and western Rafah. Ground forces, which raided a number of houses located in the Al-Muqata, Al-Zahir, Al-Aujra, Al-Tuma, Al-Jura, Al-Qaria and Al-Mahadia neighbourhoods, were accompanied by a number of Apache helicopters.
Armed forces also bombed militants’ locations in Central Sinai amid reports of casualties in the region.
A security source stated that the initial attack resulted in the death of 10 militants and injuring of 20 others, in addition to the arrest of 15 armed assailants. Eye witnesses stated that during the campaign, armed forces employed nearly 30 different types of tanks and armoured vehicles, along with 6 Apache helicopters which were used to pursue militants attempting to flee the area. A number of those militants were arrested after blockades were set up in neighbourhoods located in southern Rafah.
Eye witnesses stated that Apache helicopters launched strikes against militant locations in southern Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, accompanied by tanks and armored vehicles. Witnesses further described loud explosions being heard in the area, along with rising clouds of smoke, after a number of four-wheel-drive pickup trucks had been attacked, which led to the death and injury of a number of individuals.
A number of weapons depositories and facilities thought to house vehicles owned by militants were also attacked and destroyed, which led to the death of a number of militants.
All telephone and internet service provider networks operating throughout Northern Sinai were shut down during the operation.