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'We're not mercenaries': Egypt 'rejects' US proposal to deploy troops to Syria Open in fullscreen

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'We're not mercenaries': Egypt 'rejects' US proposal to deploy troops to Syria

Cairo has refused to deploy troops to Yemen to counter the Houthi rebellion [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 April, 2018

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Egypt will not join a proposed multi-national Arab force meant to replace US military presence in Syria, a former Egyptian intelligence official has said.

Egypt will not join a proposed multi-national Arab force meant to replace US military presence in Syria, a former Egyptian intelligence official has said.

Mohamed Rashad, the former undersecretary of general intelligence, told news website Egypt Independent on Tuesday that Cairo's forces were not "mercenaries".

The top intelligence official was responding to a report that US President Donald Trump has reached out to Arab states to deploy troop to Syria to minimise Washington's role in the Syrian conflict.

"The Egyptian Armed Forces are not mercenaries [that can be] leased or ordered by foreign states to deploy forces in a certain area," Rashad said.

"This is not acceptable and no one should dare to direct or give instructions to Egypt's army,"

"Egypt is refusing any interference from foreign countries in Syria as the matter is related to the Syrian people and only they have the authority to decide their fate," he added.

US officials have reportedly reached out to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Egypt about providing funds and military resources to create the force.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said the kingdom was willing to send troops to Syria as part of a wider coalition - should the idea be proposed.

Saudi Arabia has been entangled in a three-year war against Houthi rebels in Yemen that has yet to bear fruit.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia launched a coalition of Arab states fighting to roll back the rebels in Yemen and restore the country's internationally-recognised government to power - creating what the UN has called the world's largest humanitarian crisis.

Cairo has refused to deploy troops to Yemen to counter the Houthi rebellion and is currently fighting an extremist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that killed hundreds of security forces.

The reports of a possible multi-national Arab force come as the international community scrambles to resolve the ongoing brutal Syrian conflict, after an alleged chemical attack last week killed more than 40 civilians in Douma.

In response, the US, Britain and France last week hit targets they said were linked to the Syrian regime's chemical weapons programme.

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