Egypt: Army preparing major operation to 'purify' Sinai of terrorists
Egyptian security forces arrest number of suspected Palestinian terrorists while preparing to embark on major operation intended to rid Sinai of jihadists; operation to include F-16s, helicopters, elite forces. Meanwhile, Abbas speaks with Mansour, Islamists call for protests
The arrests are part of a large operation in the peninsula intended to fight terrorist currently active in Sinai, specifically focusing jihadist strongholds. Sky news has reported F-16s and helicopters are involved in the operation.
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In addition to the Palestinians arrested, Egyptian security forces are currently attempting to apprehend an additional group of Palestinians suspected of terror activities.
Army braces for Sinai 'purification operation' (Photo: AFP)
The state-controlled Al Gomhuria newspaper ran a front page headline: "Sinai's Purification Operation within Days", referring to expectations the army would launch an offensive against militants in the region.
There have been almost daily attacks and skirmishes between radical Islamists and police and soldiers in Sinai since Morsi's ouster, some of them deadly.
Overnight on Friday, gunmen fired on a security checkpoint near the Suez Canal, but security personnel repelled the attack.
A number of days ago Ynet learned that dozens of members of terrorist groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood have left the Gaza Strip headed to the Sinai Peninsula to fight the Egyptian army.
Egyptian army in Sinai (Photo: AFP)
Meanwhile Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke with Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour to wish him a happy Ramadan.
Abbas also said that the Palestinian leadership will continue to respect the will of the Egyptian people and will work to prevent external involvement in Egypt internal affairs.
Mansour, for his part, reiterated what he called the historic connection between the Egyptian and Palestinian people, the Maan news agency reported.
Brotherhood: 'Bigger crowds'
In the meantime, a senior leader of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi's party called for mass rallies across Egypt on Monday, hours after tens of thousands of Morsi's supporters demanded his return in a peaceful protest in Cairo.
Interim Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi is expected to swear in a new cabinet next week to enforce an army-backed "road map" to restore civilian rule, while Morsi's party has continually rejected all political process.
"Next Monday a bigger crowd, God willing, in all the squares of Egypt - against the military coup," Essam El-Erian, Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said on his Facebook page on Saturday.
"Egypt decides through the ballot box, through protests, and mass rallies and peaceful sit-ins. No one person, one elite group and military organization will impose its decision on the people," he said.
His post came hours after tens of thousands of Egyptians marched on Cairo's streets in the early hours of Saturday to demand ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi be reinstated, but there were none of the deadly clashes that swept Egypt a week ago.
The Muslim Brotherhood called on Friday for "a day of marching on", and 10 days after the military overthrew Egypt's first freely elected president, large crowds descended on the capital waving flags and chanting slogans.
A week earlier similar scenes of protest turned violent when pro- and anti-Mursi demonstrators clashed in cities and towns across the country, killing 35 people and widening the rift between Egyptians on different sides of the political divide.
Reuters contributed to this report
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