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Egyptian President el-Sissi travels to embattled northern Sinai Peninsula to inspect troops

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CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi travelled to the troubled northern part of the Sinai Peninsula to inspect troops on Saturday, after Islamic State-linked militants struck a deadly blow against the military this week in a coordinated assault.

Wearing his old uniform, the general-turned politician met members of the army and police, an official from his office said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information otherwise.

The army said 17 soldiers and over 100 militants were killed in Wednesday's brazen attack in Sinai, although before the release of its official statement, several senior security officials from multiple branches of Egypt's forces in the area had said that dozens more troops also died in the fighting.

The attack, unprecedented in its size and coordination, hit a string of army checkpoints and involved multiple suicide bombings and the siege of a main police station with heavy weapons.

Also Saturday, an Islamic State group affiliate claimed responsibility for the Sinai assault also said it had fired three Grad rockets at Israel a day earlier.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the group which calls itself the Sinai Province of the Islamic State group said it fired the rockets because Israel was supporting the Egyptian regime. It also claimed Israeli aircraft had joined Egyptian warplanes in bombing its fighters.

Israel's military said the rocket was fired into southern Israel Friday afternoon, hitting an open field but causing no damage or injuries. Egyptian military and security officials in Sinai have denied any rockets were fired from the restive peninsula.

Combat operations continued in the area late Saturday, with the Egyptian army saying Apache attack helicopters fired missiles at groups of extremists, killing 10 of them.

PHOTO: FILE - In this Thursday, July 2, 2015, file photo, people carry the coffin for 1st Lt. Mohammed Ashraf, killed in Wednesday's attack by Islamic militants in the Sinai, during the funeral procession in Ashmoun, north of Cairo, Egypt. When Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi  led the army’s overthrow of Egypt’s Islamist president two years ago, he promised to usher in new stability for the country. Instead, now President el-Sissi is facing an even tougher challenge: An Islamic militant insurgency that unleashed its worst violence yet the past week. (AP Photo/Ashour Abosalm, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, July 2, 2015, file photo, people carry the coffin for 1st Lt. Mohammed Ashraf, killed in Wednesday's attack by Islamic militants in the Sinai, during the funeral procession in Ashmoun, north of Cairo, Egypt. When Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led the army’s overthrow of Egypt’s Islamist president two years ago, he promised to usher in new stability for the country. Instead, now President el-Sissi is facing an even tougher challenge: An Islamic militant insurgency that unleashed its worst violence yet the past week. (AP Photo/Ashour Abosalm, File)

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PHOTO: FILE - In this Thursday, July 2, 2015, file photo, people carry the coffin for 1st Lt. Mohammed Ashraf, killed in Wednesday's attack by Islamic militants in the Sinai, during the funeral procession in Ashmoun, north of Cairo, Egypt. When Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi  led the army’s overthrow of Egypt’s Islamist president two years ago, he promised to usher in new stability for the country. Instead, now President el-Sissi is facing an even tougher challenge: An Islamic militant insurgency that unleashed its worst violence yet the past week. (AP Photo/Ashour Abosalm, File)
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