First: Casualties and Losses as declared by the Army and militants
The following chart shows a comparison between the military losses of the two conflicting parties during the last six months, according to sources from both parties as well as the monitoring of the Egyptian Institute of Studies:
– Following are the casualties and losses during December disseminated from the Egyptian Army communiques and the statements declared by militants as well as media reports:
1- Casualties and Losses as Declared by Egyptian Army
The military spokesman of Egyptian Armed Forces issued one military statement during December on the developments of the comprehensive military operation in North Sinai, while the Egyptian Interior Ministry issued two statements: the first one was published on its official page while the second one was sent to the government-run newspapers.
The casualties and losses in the ranks of militants according to the data of both ministries of Defense and Interior were as follows:
– 48 militants were killed,
– 403 persons were arrested, under the pretext of being suspects,
– 342 hideouts were discovered and destroyed,
– 27 vehicles and 83 motorcycles were confiscated,
– 344 explosive devices were destroyed,
– 4 tunnels were destroyed, and
– large amounts of ammunition and explosive devices were confiscated.
However, only one soldier was killed during the military campaign, according to the military spokesman.
2- Casualties and Losses as Declared by militants and media reports
According to what was monitored by the Egyptian Institute for Political and Strategic Studies in December, the losses of the army and police forces were as follows:
– At least 20 military personnel, including three officers, were killed,
– Three local militants were killed under the pretext of collaborating with the army forces’
– Three local militants were executed and one citizen was assassinated under the pretext of cooperation with the Egyptian security services,
– At least 15 military personnel were injured, a figure which does not reflect the size of army losses compared to the size of the vehicles that were targeted, taking into consideration that the Egyptian regime usually covers the army casualties and losses.
At the level of operations, the IS-affiliate Sinai Province fought more than 8 armed clashes against the Army, carried out 6 attacks with sniper weapons, and used 25 improvised explosive devices, resulting in the destruction/damage of 22 military vehicles.
Second: Overview of the military operation developments
Following is an overview of the developments of Egypt’s Comprehensive Operation – Sinai 2018 during December 2018:
Operation Sinai-2018 continued for the eleventh consecutive month after it was launched on 9 February. Our assessment and observations on the process in December are as follows:
– In mid-December, the Sinai Province militants ambushed an Egyptian military force in the Maghara (cave) area in central Sinai. The force consisted of more than 10 military vehicles, which were initially targeted by improvised explosive devices. After having lost about three vehicles, the Army was prompted to send two helicopters of the Apache type and a drone to rescue the force. We were able to document that at least two militants were killed, while the army casualties were at least one officer and three personnel. The areas of al-Maghara were subject to heavy bombardment by the army after the ambush. The IS Aamaq news agency announced that the attack resulted in the killing and injuring of about 20 military personnel.
– According to a video, released by Aamaq on December 14, 2018, two persons of the tribal militias collaborating with the army forces were executed: Muhammad Samir Amr Abu Saad, 29, from Deir El Balah, Gaza; and Abdallah Salman, 30, al-Agraa, Rafah. The execution took place near Rashid Palace in Al-Barth area south of Rafah, the site where the 103rd Brigade was attacked and destroyed by Sinai Province. The area is assumed to be militarily controlled by the army and its affiliated tribal militias.
The Sini Province militants continued to clash with the army forces in the areas of the south and west of Rafah, and fought several clashes with the local tribal militias, killing a number of its members. The most prominent clashes took place in the area of Dakma Keleih, east of the village of Mahdia in Rafah.
– A group of tribal militias succeeded in attacking a Sinai Province armed cell in the city of Sheikh Zuwaid, killing three people.
– There were leaked reports a Sinai Province fighter, Salim Awad Salim al-Sawarka, killed Mohammed Saad al-Saidi, a senior Shari’a lawyer in the militant organization, who allegedly recommended the massacre at the al-Rawda mosque on 24 November 2017. It is worth mentioning that that massacre led to divisions among the ranks of the IS Sinai Province and a state of public rejection in Sinai.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry continued its policy of physical liquidation of the forcibly disappeared detainees. The National Security Service of the Egyptian Ministry of Interior committed two crimes of physical liquidation during December, where 14 citizens and then 10 others were extra-judicially killed, but were declared as being killed in clashes during security forces raids in Al-Arish.
The Egyptian Ministry of Interior continued to tighten restrictions on the freedom of movement of citizens in the cities of El Arish, Sheikh Zuwaid and the remaining part of Rafah, and security raids continued in the villages of Bir al-Abed.
– Israeli drones continued their intensive activity in terms of reconnaissance and targeting of members of the IS Sinai Province in the Sinai Peninsula.
Third: Israeli Drone attacks and violation of sovereignty
During December, we observed a moderate activity of the Israeli drones in Sinai. We monitored five drone penetrations inside areas of operation in northeast Sinai, including the areas of Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah. The penetrations included aerial surveying and targeting. We were able to monitor the following:
– On December 3, several Israeli drones targeted houses in and around Bila’a village, west of Rafah.
– On December 9, a group of Israeli drones carried out reconnaissance activity over the villages of al-Maqataa and Rafi’a, south of Rafah, and then targeted an unknown ground target. Meanwhile, another group of drones carried out reconnaissance activity over the villages of Masura, Halwa, Taerah and Mahdia.
– On December 16, there was an Israeli raid where a missile was fired through a drone targeting the Midan area, west of the city of Arish.
– On December 24, 3 Israeli drones conducted reconnaissance and aerial survey over the villages of Tayrah, Neqizat, Barth and Shabana, south of the Egyptian city of Rafah.
– On December 26, at 12:30 pm, four Israeli drones penetrated the Egyptian airspace, south of Rafah, specifically from the direction of the village of Tayrah. The drones carried out aerial bombardments against targets in Shabana village south of Rafah, and al-Moqataa and Lefitat, south of Sheikh Zuwaid.