US considers pulling troops from Egypt over IS threat

US considers pulling troops from Egypt over IS threat
The US is considering pulling troops out of a base in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula due the growing threat posed by the local Islamic State group affiliate.
2 min read
07 April, 2016
Militant attacks against the Egyptian army and police have persisted in Sinai [Getty]
The US military is considering pulling troops from a base in the northeastern part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, partly because of the increasing threat from Islamic State group militants.

The Obama administration may order the movement of some US and international troops into southern Sinai, and is discussing such a move with Egypt and Israel, US media have reported.

"The [Pentagon] supports the role being played by the Multinational Force and Observers in supporting the Treaty of Peace between Israel and Egypt," Defense Department spokesman Christopher Sherwood said in a statement.

"We are in continuous contact with the MFO and adjust force protection capabilities as conditions warrant," Sherwood added.

Egypt and Israel signed a peace deal in 1979, agreeing that a Multinational Force and Observers [MFO] mission would monitor compliance.

Some 700 US troops are part of that mission.

Most of the peacekeepers are stationed at al-Gorah camp, near the Gaza Strip.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis declined to confirm or deny the reports.

"We remain fully committed to the objective of the MFO mission and the maintenance of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt," Davis said.

Officials worry the threat of a militant attack targeting US forces in the region is increasing.

Two Fijian troops were killed and four US service members injured last September in a roadside attack in Sinai believed to have been carried out by an Islamic state group [IS] affiliate.

Following the attack, the US said it would send additional troops to improve protection for the MFO peacekeepers in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

Since Egypt's military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, militant attacks against the Egyptian army and police have persisted despite an army campaign against them.

The local IS affiliate claimed responsibility last month for an attack on a police checkpoint near North Sinai's provincial capital of al-Arish that killed 15 policemen.

IS also claimed responsibility for bombing a Russian airliner in October that killed all 224 people on board, minutes after it took off from a South Sinai beach resort.