Egypt's armed forces on Friday launched airstrikes against alleged terror organisations in north and central Sinai, while three alleged members of a militant group were killed by security forces in the capital Cairo, the opening moves in a major new nationwide security operation, officials said. Col.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered the military to defeat Islamists in the region by the end of this month.
Egypt's army has pursued Islamic State group militants in the northern Sinai region for years, after numerous bomb and gun attacks on troops in the region.
Egyptian ground troops, air forces and navy joined with border guards and the police for the operation, dubbed Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018.
The air force also discovered and destroyed an explosives-making laboratory and a communications centre, as well as six cannabis and opium fields, he said.
And last September Sissi met Netanyahu for the first time in public, the encounter coming ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in NY.
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Egypt is quietly carrying out the operation with cooperation from Israel.
A military spokesman earlier said that "Operation Sinai 2018" would cover large parts of Sinai, but also parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert, where other militants have waged attacks, some believed to be staged from neighbouring Libya.
Formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the group first appeared in September 2011 and rebranded itself with an IS pledge of allegiance in November 2014.
Militant attacks increased dramatically in Egypt since the military's 2013 ouster of elected but divisive Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. The mission, announced Friday, is meant to target "terrorist and criminal elements and organizations" across Egypt.
In addition to its attacks on Christians, IS has adopted a threatening tone against Sufi Muslims, whom it considers to be heretics.