Egypt denies military support for Assad

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said in an interview his priority is to support national armies in the Arab world. (AP)
Updated 28 November 2016
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Egypt denies military support for Assad

CAIRO: Egypt on Sunday denied Arab media reports claiming that it had a military presence in Syria, days after President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi expressed his support for the Syrian Army.
“These claims only exist in the imagination of those who promote them,” the Foreign Ministry said in the statement.
On Thursday, the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir said that 18 Egyptian air force pilots had been deployed on a military base in the Syrian central province of Hama.
It added, however, that it was “unclear” whether they were taking part in any military operations.
El-Sisi, the former army chief who was elected president in 2014, expressed support for the Syrian military during an interview aired Tuesday with Portuguese broadcaster RTP.
“Our priority is to support national armies, for example in Libya to assert control over Libyan territories and deal with extremist elements. The same with Syria and Iraq,” he said, responding to a question on whether Egypt would contemplate a UN peacekeeping role in Syria.
Asked by the interviewer whether he meant the Syrian military, El-Sisi, who has overseen a warming of ties with Syrian President Bashar Assad, responded: “Yes.”
Syrian security services chief Ali Mamluk made a surprise visit to Cairo in October and met Egyptian officials, in his first public foreign visit in five years.
El-Sisi, who was elected in 2014 almost a year after overthrowing his predecessor Muhammad Mursi, has cracked down on hard-liners and is battling a deadly insurgency.


Egypt court sentences two monks to death over bishop killing

Updated 23 February 2019
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Egypt court sentences two monks to death over bishop killing

  • Authorities blamed the killing on unspecified ‘differences’ between the two monks and the bishop
  • Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of 100 million

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced two monks to death over the murder of a bishop, a judicial source said, in a case that shocked the Middle East’s largest Christian community.
Coptic Bishop Epiphanius was found dead with a head wound in July at the Saint Macarius monastery in the plains of Wadi Al-Natrun, northwest of Cairo.
Prosecutors said one of the monks Isaiah confessed to striking the abbot with a metal bar as the second monk Philotheos kept watch.
The authorities blamed the killing on unspecified “differences” between the two monks, one of whom was later defrocked, and the bishop.
The sentence against the two monks was referred to Egypt’s Grand Mufti.
The country’s top theological authority is required by law to give its legally non-binding opinion in cases of capital punishment.
The defendants can appeal the verdict after the Mufti gives an opinion and the ruling is officially issued on April 24.
In the wake of the bishop’s killing, Egypt’s Coptic Church placed a one-year moratorium on accepting new monks.
It also banned monks from social media, tightened financial controls and refocused attention on spiritual life.
Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of 100 million.
The country’s vast desert is home to some of Christianity’s most ancient monasteries.