The Egyptian army has launched a major operation to withdraw its troops from North Sinai, northeast of the country, in preparation for the end of Sinai 2018, the military operation which has been ongoing in the peninsula since 9 February.
Military sources told The New Khalij that the withdrawal process started several days ago and included the withdrawal of about 70 per cent of military forces in what has been the largest military operation carried out by the Egyptian army since the October 1973 war.
All branches of the Egyptian armed forces have participated in the operation with air and sea support including a Mistral helicopter carrier, a Dassault Rafale combat aircraft and Special Forces from the Egyptian Army and the Interior Ministry.
The sources, who asked not to be identified, stated that the ongoing withdrawal process indicates the divergence of military data and the growing disinterest of media outlets in the operation.
Since the start of the operation four months ago the Egyptian army has issued 23 statements on the operation, indicating the death of more than 200 armed men and of at least 33 officers and soldiers. Meanwhile, the number of detainees reached 4,056 people.
A few days ago the Governor of North Sinai, Major General Abdel Fattah Harhour, announced the completion of the plan of the post operation phase. A plan is being drawn up for the establishment of investment projects and the reopening of streets and squares.
According to the sources Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is studying the declaration of victory over terrorism in Sinai on 30 June in an attempt to achieve political victory and attract investment, grants and loans for the development of the region.
The Egyptian army has been widely criticised by human rights activists for several violations including the siege, killing and enforced disappearance of civilians who are not related to armed groups, demolishing their homes. A recent video captures Egyptian soldiers firing at a young man who was unarmed.