CAIRO – On Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered his military command to use all necessary force to secure the Sinai Peninsula within three months, following a militant attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people.
No group has claimed responsibility for Friday's attack in which authorities say gunmen carrying an "Islamic State" flag opened fire after firing an explosive. It was the worst militant attack in the modern history of Egypt. Egyptian forces have fought an ISIS affiliate for several years in northern Sinai, where militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers.
"It is your responsibility to secure and stabilize the Sinai in the next three months," Sisi said, addressing his new chief of staff in a speech that gave no details about any operation. "You can use all the necessary brute force."
The Egyptians walk next to bodies after a firearm attack and bombing in the Rawda mosque, about 40 kilometers west of the northern capital of El-Arish, on November 24, 2017.  The Wilayat Sinai branch of ISIS has claimed some of the deadliest attacks in Egypt. The group was formed in 2014 as ex-combatants of a group of local extremists and has conducted raids on security forces for more than three years.
Sinai became one of the last to resist ISIS after military defeats in Iraq and Syria. 19659002] Clearing the militants from northern Sinai, a desert area stretching from the Suez Cbad eastward to the Gaza Strip, has been a difficult task for the Egyptian army, which is more accustomed to conventional warfare than the counterinsurgency.
air strikes and demolished houses to clear an area near the border with Gaza to destroy tunnels. Some tribal leaders say the campaign alienates local communities and in the past has fueled sympathy for the militants.
The Arab League plans to hold an emergency meeting on December 5 to discuss the attack, the state news agency MENA said on Wednesday. ] The tribal leaders in Sinai, some of whom cooperate with the military to provide intelligence, say the militants are as few as 800. Most are local Egyptians, but there are also some Palestinians, they say.
Egypt awaits a recent agreement that helped The intermediary between the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah to allow a unity government to control the Gaza border will help curb the smuggling of arms by controlling the crossing and tunnels in Egyptian territory.
Friday's attack was a change for the Sinai militants who attacked police and soldiers in the peninsula. But since December 2016 they began attacking Coptic Christian churches and pilgrims on the continent.