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Egypt, Syria intelligence 'cooperating to extradite captured jihadists' Open in fullscreen

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Egypt, Syria intelligence 'cooperating to extradite captured jihadists'

Disagreements over Syria have cooled Egyptian-Saudi relations [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 November, 2016

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The Egyptian and Syrian governments have been cooperating to send Egyptian extremists captured in the war-torn country back home to face prosecution.
The Egyptian and Syrian governments have been cooperating to send Egyptian extremists captured in the war-torn country back home to face prosecution.

Egyptian authorities have recently received tens of Egyptians captured fighting for extremist groups over the past three years, an Egyptian source in the judiciary told The New Arab on Wednesday.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that several handovers combatants have taken place in October and November.

"Egyptian authorities have questioned the extradited jihadists, who were forcibly returned according to security protocols of the Homeland Security and General Intelligence Directorate agencies," the source said.

"Homeland Security is subjecting the extradited jihadists to long interrogation sessions overseen by members of its prosecution to find out how they left Egypt, the groups that they joined and if they are connected to the Islamic State group [IS].

"They will classify the defendants according to their political and ideological affiliations and then split them up into separate cases."

Last week, sources told The New Arab that a group of Egyptian security experts had been sent to Syria to track down Egyptians fighting with rebel groups against the Syrian regime.

Egypt, however, has denied reports that it has a presence in Syria, saying: "These claims only exist in the imagination of those who promote them."

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.

Sisi, the former army chief who was elected president in 2014, expressed support for the Syrian military during a recently aired interview with Portuguese broadcaster RTP.

His government had been supported by billions of dollars in aid from Saudi Arabia, but ties appear to have cooled between the two countries amid disagreements over Syria.

Saudi Arabia backs rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia and Iran are supporting him militarily.

Saudi Arabia suspended oil shipments to Egypt in October, a move announced after Cairo backed a Russian-drafted resolution on Syria in the UN Security Council, angering Riyadh.

And while Egypt has on paper been part of a Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen backing pro-government forces against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, behind the scenes Egypt has been reluctant to engage.

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