Obama Administration May Pull U.S. Troops From Sinai Amid Growing ISIS Threat

Smokes rises from an Egyptian coastguard vessel on the coast of northern Sinai, as seen from the border of southern Gaza Strip with Egypt
Smokes rises from an Egyptian coast guard vessel off the coast of northern Sinai / Reuters
• April 6, 2016 12:44 pm


U.S. troops based in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula may be relocated amid heightened security concerns about militant attacks in the region.

The Obama administration may transfer some of the roughly 700 U.S. troops to southern Sinai to address the growing threat of extremists in the region, including groups linked to the Islamic State, CNN reported Tuesday evening, citing defense officials.

Washington is discussing the move with Egypt and Israel. Both nations belong to the Multinational Force and Observers, a United States-led peacekeeping alliance responsible for enforcing the 1979 peace treaty between the two states.

Defense officials said the threat of terrorist attacks is escalating in northern Sinai, which borders Israel. Officials said the relocation would not indicate a military retreat from ISIS.

The United States believes the move would still allow it to fulfill its treaty obligations in the region through "unmanned remote sensing technology," including cameras, that can "monitor military movements" in Sinai, CNN 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 to CNN. "We are in continuous contact with the MFO and adjust force protection capabilities as conditions warrant."

Islamist militants in Sinai have grown in strength since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011.

U.S. personnel were evacuated from northeast Sinai in September due to terrorist threats. A roadside attack in the region injured four U.S. service members that month, CNN reported.