Egyptian army announces major operation in Sinai, Nile Delta

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Egypt army launches major operation in Sinai, Nile Delta

"Explosive devices and automatic guns were seized from the arrested persons, for carrying out other attacks before the beginning of the presidential elections", the ministry said in a statement.

The Egyptian army on Friday announced the imminent launch of a wide-ranging operation aimed at targeting "terrorist elements" in the Sinai Peninsula, according to army spokesman Colonel Tamer al-Rifai.

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Refaei announced earlier on Friday that the armed forces has initiated a comprehensive operation in Sinai on Friday, with the security alert level nationwide being raised to the maximum level. Residents of the area reported hearing air activities above Ismailia, a city near the Suez Canal. Egypt and its strongman president, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, has failed to expunge fighters loyal to the extremists from Egypt's sparsely populated desert expanses and the conservative Nile Delta region.

The campaign, which involves the army, navy, air force, border patrol and police, takes place ahead of a March election in which Al-Sisi is seeking a second term.

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The spokesman gave no further details, including the date on which the operation is slated to begin.

In 2014, Islamic State in the Sinai province, formerly known as Ansar Al-Bait Al-Maqdis, pledged its allegiance to the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, hitting out in a series of high profile attacks including the October 2015 downing of Metrojet Flight 9268.

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