While credible statistics are difficult to come by, fighting in North Sinai this year has been fierce. Between January and June of this year, 120 Egyptian security forces personnel were killed in counter terror related operations, according to open source investigations of Egyptian army and Interior Ministry statements. The majority of those killed were operating in Sinai.
Killing top terrorists ineffective
Sinai 2018 has led to some successes for the Egyptian government, particularly in the targeting of key individuals within Wilayat Sinai. In the video it released on 15 November, the group confirmed the death of its former leader Abu Osama al-Masri in what was likely an air-strike. Al-Masriʹs predecessor, Abu Duaa al-Ansari was killed in August 2016 in an air-strike conducted by Israeli forces.
"There have been intelligence achievements for the Egyptians in high-level targeting of key leaders of Wilayat Sinai, but the question is what impact does killing the groupʹs leaders really have?" said Zack Gold, an analyst at the Centre for Naval Analyses and an authority on militancy in the Sinai.
"Does killing the top leaders really decapitate the group or affect its long term capacities? I frankly canʹt determine any difference in way the group operates after these killings – why is it still able to lay down roadside IEDs on a near daily basis?" queried Gold.
While Wilayat Sinai is still active in North Sinai, Islamic-State linked jihadists are also staging attacks in the rest of Egypt. A string of attacks, particularly on Christians, have been staged across Egypt and members of IS-linked cells have been arrested across the country.