Egypt began a major assault against militants yesterday on the Sinai peninsula, where Islamic State attacks have killed soldiers, police and civilians. Egypt seeks to crush the militant insurgency by the end of the February deadline set by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. After an attack on a mosque which killed some 300 people, the deadliest such incident in Egypt, Sisi on November 29 ordered the military to defeat militants in North Sinai within three months, Residents claim they saw warplanes flying above the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, which borders North Sinai to the west. To the northeast, people in the Gaza Strip said they heard explosions coming from Egyptian territory. A military spokesman said the operation would cover large parts of Sinai, but also parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert, where other militants have waged attacks, some believed to be staged out of neighboring Libya. The campaign, which involves the army, navy, air force, border patrol and police, takes place ahead of a March election in which Sisi is seeking a second term. He is widely expected to win. “I follow with pride the heroic actions of my sons in the armed forces and police to clear Egypt’s territory of terrorist elements”, Sisi posted on his Facebook account yesterday.