(Web Desk) – Fresh clashes in in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula have left 16 militants and two army forces dead.
In a statement released on Sunday, Egyptian military spokesman Colonel Tamer Rifai said two soldiers had been killed and six others injured “as a result of combat operations” in Sinai Peninsula.
Egyptian warplanes also hit nine militant hideouts in northern and central Sinai and the Nile Delta, killing 16 militants, he added.
Rifai further noted that three militants had been detained in central Sinai upon a tip-off from local residents.
The militants’ weapons and military equipment were seized and five armored vehicles were destroyed, he pointed out.
The new fatalities bring to 18, the total number of Egyptian soldiers killed since the army launched a major assault against militants in Sinai on February 9.
The campaign is aimed at crushing Sinai militancy, which is inspired by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, by a February deadline set by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The Sinai Peninsula has been the hotbed of militancy in Egypt since a coup led by Sisi ousted the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in the summer of 2013. Sisi came to power a year later only to see attacks that had normally targeted security forces in Sinai expanding to the mainland Egypt.
A branch of Daesh has been behind many attacks in Sinai and elsewhere.