Following the recent war declaration by North Sinai’s second largest group, Al-Sawarka, against the IS-affiliated group Sinai Province, anonymous militants — believed to be members of the group — made an interim checkpoint south of Rafah city in North Sinai to disseminate a hard copy of a statement.
According to residents in the city who preferred to remain anonymous, the statement disseminated by the militants is actually issued by Sinai Province and is addressed to North Sinai’s prominent tribe of Al-Tarbiyeen.
Throughout the statement, the IS-affiliated group officially adopted a soft tone towards the Al-Tarbiyeen tribe, that have also declared war against it. This tone is clear when it mentioned that its militants are not targeting all the tribe members, but rather a small fraction of members of the tribe.
“The group is fighting a small disloyal portion that does not represent the whole tribe, with its elders and glorious history, we will call this faction ‘Sahoat El Mortad Mousa El Dalh’ (Infidel Mousa El Dalah’s groups),” the statement read.
Mousa El Dalah is a leading figure of Al-Tarbiyeen tribe, who is managing the tribe clashes with IS in Sinai. He was recently declared the tribe’s official spokesperson in the wake of the tribe’s declaration that it will engage in war against Sinai Province.
Recently, the militant group had released a statement that launched verbal attacks on the Al-Tarbiyeen tribe and considered all its members as apostates.
The Sinai Province group claimed through the statement that leading figures in the tribe who support the group have asked them to suspend labeling the whole tribe as apostates; accordingly, the group chose to adopt a soft tone in its statement, saying that the tribe’s members are its family and brothers.
Sinai Province’s soft tone is believed to be due to the intensive and unprecedented military confrontations between the tribe and militants from the group; confrontations that have led to the death or arrest of many IS militants.
North Sinai’s second largest tribe al-Sawarka declares war against Sinai Province
Since 2014, the Egyptian government represented in the army and police forces have engaged in military confrontations with Sinai Province, which had been previously known as Ansar Beit el-Maqdis inside North Sinai.
The militants affiliated with Sinai Province have launched deadly attacks against army and police checkpoints in North Sinai, killing many officers and conscripts.
In response to these attacks, army and police forces have conducted large-scale, sweeping operations there.
According to several statements issued by the Egyptian army’s official spokesperson, these sweeping operations resulted in the death of many Sinai Province militants, among them several high-ranking leaders.
The entry of North Sinai’s tribal members into the battle raging in the province is believed to pose a radical change to the future of the war against the Islamic State.
Sinai tribes have a great knowledge of militant hiding places and more access to local information than the Armed Forces.