ISIS Leader in Sinai Killed in Airstrikes, Egyptian Military Says

The aerial attacks against a group believed responsible for downing a civilian Russian aircraft in October, were, according to a Facebook post by Egypt's military spokesman, based on 'accurate intelligence.'

A screenshot of a picture posted on the Egyptian army's Twitter account showing ISIS targets of Egyptian airstrikes in Sinai, August 4, 2016.
Twitter

Egypt's military said on Thursday it had killed Abu Duaa al-Ansari, which it identified as the leader of the Sinai branch of ISIS, in a series of airstrikes near the town of Al-Arish.

Egyptian military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir said in a Facebook post that the attack followed "accurate intelligence" the army received. The military then carried out a surgical strike in southern Al-Arish to eliminate terrorist targets, he added.

He said the attack, south of Al-Arish, also killed 45 other ISIS fighters and destroyed arms and ammunition stores used by the group.

A screenshot of a picture posted on the Egyptian army's Twitter account showing ISIS targets of Egyptian airstrikes in Sinai, August 4, 2016.
Twitter

There was no immediate confirmation from Sinai Province, ISIS' offshoot in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

The statement suggests the successful attack by the Egyptian army fulfills a promise to avenge the deaths of Egyptian soldiers and security officers killed in ISIS attacks, and a signal that the army will continue to chase down the terrorists to achieve stability.

Al Ansari's group was suspected to have planted bombs on board a Russian jet flying home tourists from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg that exploded in middair in October, killing all the more than 200 people on board. ISIS claimed responsibility for the blast at the time. 

The strike also follows an ISIS Sinai video threat against Israel.The 35-minute clip released on Monday said that "Jews will not remain in Palestine, we will turn it into a graveyard for Jews."

Egyptian forces have been battling Islamic militants in Sinai for years but the insurgency there has grown deadlier since the 2013 ouster by the military Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.