Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s Sinai campaign: Egypt’s military is targeting civilians and militants in a brutal crackdown.
NORTH SINAI, Egypt—The black, charcoaled remains of a cow’s dead body lies in a sandy field behind a shelled-out mansion. Washed-out blood stains the walls of an unpainted grey room where sons say their 80-year-old mother was killed by army tank fire. Bullet holes pockmark the house. A 9-year-old girl’s cheek is marked by a pink incision where a rock hit her face as her home was strafed by helicopter fire. A child’s sandal and burned Quran were among the rubble of a mosque that locals say was destroyed by ground and air military troops. I watched as an IED exploded under an armored personnel carrier as it turned a corner. Black smoke filled the air, and an olive tree was uprooted. Later, two soldiers were reported injured.
These are some of the casualties of the Egyptian army’s war on “terrorists” in the villages and towns that dot the north of the Sinai Peninsula close to the borders of Gaza and Israel.
In September, the military stepped up a two-month campaign to rid the area of militants by “taking action against terrorists, instead of merely reacting to terrorist attacks,” said army spokesman Ahmed Ali.
Egyptian security forces have been coming under increased attack after army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ousted President Mohamed Morsi in early July. Al-Qaida-inspired militants in Sinai have killed more than 100 members of the security forces since then, according to the Egyptian military.