USA offers help for Egypt in Sinai operations
The United States and Egypt are trying to implement a new security plan to address the worsening situation in the Sinai Peninsula, where 16 Egyptian soldiers died last Sunday after an ambush near the border with Gaza Strip and Israel, reported the New York Times.
Citing unnamed sources, the American daily said that the U.S. Department of Defense talks with the Egyptians include sharing information with the Egyptian army and police in the Sinai. This information includes intercepted conversations by Islamist activists by phone or radio, and aerial images provided by aircraft, drones and satellites, the article said.
"We continue to discuss ways to increase and improve the mastery of the Egyptians , "said a Pentagon representative who was quoted as saying by the Times.
It added the discussions take place with military and intelligence circles, as well as with the the government of President Mohamed Morsi.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was on tour in Africa last week, talked on the phone with the new Prime Minister of Egypt Hisham Qandil and offered assistance, said the daily. The date of the conversation was not revealed.
On the ground, Egypt's armed forces are preparing to raid Mount "El Hallal" in the Sinai to remove armed elements from there, said on Saturday a military official in Cairo. According to him, this operation will take time because the armed elements had time , in recent years, to establish shelters there.
These comments came after the meeting of the Supreme Council of Egyptian armed forces, which was held last night under the chairmanship of President Morsi. It was devoted to discuss the developments in Sinai and following the inspection visit by Morsi Friday in the area of El Arish.
Mount El Hallal near the border is well known in the Sinai desert. It extends from the Fallujah area, near the Suez Canal to the south and to the north near the town of El Arish and central Sinai to the Negev desert. It consists of numerous caves, some of which are 150m high. paths and trails which are known only for the Bedouins who live there. Armed elements estimated at more than 3,000 have taken refuge there with the help of certain tribes.
Egyptian security forces have been carrying out for the past five days a major security campaign in northern Sinai. They had made several raids in and arrested seven suspects in Sheilkh Zouid town.