Syria delegation in Egypt to discuss cooperation in ‘fighting terror’

Move comes after the announcement of joint military drills between Russia and Egypt

14:42 October 17, 2016

Damascus: A top aide of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has visited Cairo to coordinate with Egypt in the fight against “terrorism” in the region.

Syria’s state news agency reported on Monday that Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, head of the National Security Bureau, led a delegation that visited Egypt the day before.

SANA says the Syrians met with top intelligence officials, including deputy chief of Egypt’s intelligence agency. It says both sides agreed on “coordinating political standpoints” and strengthening the “cooperation in fighting terrorism.”

Both countries are fighting extremists, including members of Daesh. Egypt and Syria also have bad relations with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Egypt’s pro-government Sada Al-Balad and other news websites reported Sunday that six Syrians arrived on a private jet Sunday from Damascus.

Calls to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry were not answered.

Earlier this month, Egypt voted for rival French and Russian draft resolutions on Syria at the UN Security Council, arguing that both called for a truce and aid for besieged Syrians in the rebel-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo.

Saudi Arabia, which opposes the Russian military involvement in support of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, criticised the Egyptian move in public, calling it “painful”.

Following the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab nations offered billions of dollars to Egypt.

The late Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, privately told US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014 — the year former army chief Abdul Fattah Al Sissi was elected president — that Egypt was too important to be allowed to fail.

Last week, Russia announced it would hold joint military drills involving airborne troops on Egyptian soil for the first time.

The drills, called “Protectors of Friendship-2016”, were to include 500 troops, 15 planes and helicopters and 10 military hardware units.

Last year, Russia and Egypt held their first-ever joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean, which included the Black Sea fleet’s flagship Moskva missile cruiser.

Russia has been waging an aerial bombing campaign in Syria for the past year in support of the Syrian government, part of the multi-front war that has claimed some 300,000 lives and has seen Moscow further estranged from the West.