The Egyptian army launched a major military operation in the northern Sinai peninsula targeting terrorist bases, communication hubs and weapons caches. The army claims to have killed 16 terrorists and captured more than 30 more.

Dozens of targets were destroyed in air attacks, including vehicles, weapons depots, and communication centers, military spokesman Colonel Tamer Rifai said on Sunday.

“The air force targeted and destroyed 66 targets used by terrorist elements to hide from air and artillery attacks,” Rifai said in a statement.

The army’s casualty numbers could not be independently verified.

Egypt launched a “comprehensive” security operation involving the country’s army, navy and air force, aimed at pushing armed groups out of the Sinai Peninsula, parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Delta on Friday.

Egypt has, for years, battled an armed anti-government campaign in the rugged and thinly populated Sinai Peninsula, which has gained pace since the military overthrew democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013.

In November 2017, at least 235 people were killed in a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in Bir al-Abed, a town in North Sinai province.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi after the terror attack authorized the military to use “all brute force necessary” to remove the terrorists from the rugged Sinai region. The military also said forces involved in the operation found a media center with computers, communication equipment and books and documents related to jihadi terrorist ideology.

Egyptian security forces also uncovered and destroyed six farms used to grow banned narcotics, the official statement said.

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