Egypt sends forces to help Assad, report claims

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

Egypt has sent military forces to Syria to support Bashar Assad's forces and enhance military cooperation against terrorism in Syria, according to Iranian news agency Tasnim. The move came amid enhanced rapprochement between Russia and Egypt.

The report claimed that "Egypt became more inclined toward giving military support and sending forces to assist Assad regime, after the recent tensions with Saudi Arabia, which supports terrorists in Syria and Iraq, and the Saudi-led war on civilians in Yemen." Report also indicate that, in the near future, both Egyptian and Syrian regimes would be open to reveal this cooperation publicly. A source in the Syrian Foreign Ministry refused to comment to Tasnim about the military cooperation, saying that an official statement would be issued from his ministry if the reports are true. The head of the Syrian National Security Bureau, General Ali Al-mamluki, met senior Egyptian officials during his announced visit to Egypt two weeks ago. During the historic visit, the two parties had discussed enhancing military cooperation, the reports suggested.

Egypt has increased cooperation with Russia under Egypt's Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, including a preliminary agreement to build a nuclear power plant. The country is also negotiating with Russia to restore flights to its Red Sea resorts, a year after the bombing of a Russian plane carrying holidaymakers back to St. Petersburg. Egypt also announced early in October that it will host Russian troops for war games along the Mediterranean coast, the latest step in the two countries' rapprochement.

While moving closer to Russia, as one of the non-permanent Security Council members, Egypt voted in favor of Russian draft resolutions on Syria at the U.N. Security Council

As the Syrian war continues unabated over the last five years, Assad has been backed by the Russian air force, Iran's Revolutionary Guards and an array of Shiite militias from Arab neighbors, while opposition groups seeking to oust him are backed by the Gulf monarchies, U.S.-led coalition and Turkey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered a new humanitarian pause in Syria's Aleppo, forcing opposition fighters to leave the eastern, besieged districts. The Syrian opposition dismissed Putin's Aleppo initiatives saying that Russia's humanitarian pause is a media stunt for "public consumption." Aleppo is the focal point of the six-year war in Syria. Assad has said he is determined to retake the country's largest city and former commercial capital. The Assad forces have maintained a siege on the opposition-held eastern quarters since September. The Idlib province has borne the brunt of Russian and Assad regime airstrikes since the two air forces relaxed their bombardment of Aleppo two weeks ago.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests erupting as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings with unexpected ferocity. Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-torn country, according to U.N. figures.

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