“U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Joseph Votel on Sunday described Egypt as “one of our most important partners in the region” and said his talks with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and others would explore ways to strengthen the partnership in the fight against terrorism and in promoting stability.
Underlining the nature of the threat, hundreds of Coptic families have fled the town of El-Arish on Sinai’s Mediterranean coast in recent days, to escape a campaign of violence attributed to the Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group.
At least seven Christians in El-Arish, the largest town in the sparsely-populated desert peninsula, have been killed since the end of January, among them a teacher, a veterinarian and a shopkeeper. Five were shot and two burned to death.
Last week the ISIS affiliate released an online video threatening to cleanse Egypt of Christians, whom it described as “infidels””