Egypt Army Launches Crackdown on North Sinai Terror Groups

Hundreds of Egyptian soldiers, police officers sent to reinforce security in desert peninsula, protect gas pipeline serving Israel and Jordan.

Egyptian forces sent considerable reinforcements to an extensive military operation in the northern Sinai on Saturday, sending in hundreds of soldiers in an apparent bid to reinforce dwindling security in the desert peninsula.

News of Egyptian maneuvers came just days after suspected Sinai militants fired a volley of Grad-type Katyusha rockets a residential area in the southern Israeli city of Eilat.

Sinai gas pipeline - AP - 6/2/2011

Earlier this month, Egyptian security officials said militants again attacked a gas pipeline in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula that transports fuel to neighboring Israel and Jordan.

The attack on the pipeline is the 12th since the popular uprising that ousted longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak last year.

On Saturday, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior indicated it decided to conduct a large scale military operation, including sending a large amount of forces into northern Sinai.

Salach Al Masri, commander of the security forces in northern Sinai explained that the Egypt sent roughly 150 police officers, from special forces and other combat units, in order to reinforce the security presence in northern Sinai.

According to the Egyptian general, the purpose of the operation is to tighten security in Sinai, and protect the peninsula's gas pipeline.

The forces will also guard the main road between El Arish and Rafiah. Egyptian security officials stated that Israel agreed to Egypt sending 7 battalions into Sinai, despite the peace agreements that prohibit sending military forces into Sinai.