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The New Arab

Sisi: Sinai military operations to end 'as soon as possible'

Egypt's army launched a major offensive against the jihadists in February [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 April, 2018

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Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi promised Sinai residents that the military offensive which has left nearly 420,000 residents in need of humanitarian aid, will end 'as soon as possible'.

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi promised to end military operations on Saturday in the Sinai peninsula "as soon as possible".

According to official figures, over 200 militants and at least 33 soldiers have been killed since the start of operation launched 9 February.

The operation, dubbed "Sinai 2018", is targeting an affiliate of the Islamic State group according to the government.

Sisi, speaking at a military event broadcast on state TV to Sinai residents, promised to "finish the mission as soon as possible".

He also said that a social and economic development plan for the area, launched in 2014, would be completed by 2022.

"All Egyptians know that their Egyptian brothers in Sinai are not responsible for the evil people," Sisi said, referring to jihadists.

"We don't hold our people in Sinai responsible in any way" for the attacks carried out by jihadists, said Sisi, stressing that "terrorism is present in all the republic's provinces".

Sisi thanked "every honourable Egyptian in the Sinai... this is a trying time but if we had not taken these measures (against jihadists), we would be losing Sinai".

Egypt has been hit by significant militant attacks in recent years, particularly since the army toppled Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi in the summer of 2013, amid mass protests against his government.

Hundreds of soldiers, police and civilians have been killed in the attacks.

In late November, Sisi gave three months for his security forces to re-establish control in Sinai, a deadline since extended.

Sisi secured a second term with an overwhelming victory in a presidential poll last month, in an election widely seen as a farce after opponents were jailed or forced to withdraw from the race.

The president extended a nationwide state of emergency originally declared in April 2017 by a further three months.

It is the fourth extension of the measure, imposed in the wake of attacks against Coptic Christian churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria, which killed 45 people.

A regional state of emergency has already been in place in Sinai for several years.

Human Rights Watch said on Monday that the offensive has "left up to 420,000 residents in four northeastern cities in urgent need of humanitarian aid" in Northen Sinai.

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