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The New Arab

Egypt prepared to send forces to Syria: FM

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 May, 2018

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Egypt's foreign minister has said it is "possible" for Cairo to send troops to join the prospective multi-national Arab coalition that could replace US troops in Syria at Trump's behest.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Thursday that Egypt is ready to send troops to Syria as part of an Arab coalition that could replace US troops stationed in northeastern Syria in order to maintain stability, a matter that officials from several countries have discussed.

An Egyptian intelligence official had earlier denied any possibility Egypt would join the multi-national Arab force, saying that its troops were not "mercenaries".

Egypt's Ahram state newspaper reported that Shoukry said that the idea of replacing current forces with a coalition of Arab troops is possible and being dicussed by officials from a number of countries.

Shoukry added that this proposal is being deliberated among state officials in Egypt discussing future stability in war-torn Syria.

US President Trump has reportedly been pushing such a proposal, after voicing his intent to withdraw American soldiers from Syria as soon as possible.

Egyptian diplomatic sources told The New Arab that last month, Cairo declared its willingness to participate in the Arab coaliton that could enter Syria in order to maintain security in the restive north east region recently liberated from Islamic State control.

Sources clarified that Riyadh was pushing the idea of a number of allied Arab and Islamic countries to form an "Islamic Alliance" of troops in Syria, pointing out that the issue has been being discussed for several months.

The sources added that Cairo intends for its troops to be solely a security presence and will not partake in direct conflict.

The Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir expressed the Kingdom's readiness to send troops to Syria as part of the US-led coalition, if the US requested it.

Al-Jubeir made previous statements during a press conference with UN Secretary Geneal Antonio Guterres, saying that his country had made a similar proposal to former US President Barack Obama.

"We have been discussing this proposal with the United States since the beginning of the year, and we have previously suggested it to the Obama administration," he said.

According to recent US reports, the Trump administration has requested its Arab allies to send replacement troops Syria, to help maintain the stability in the north east following its liberation from IS.

The reports also say that Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton recently requested an Egyptian official to discuss the possiblity of Egypt's participation in the proposal.

In November 2016, several Syrian and Iranian media outlets reported that Egyptian troops were on the ground in Syria, assisting the Syrian regime in the battle against IS. The reports confirmed that a team of Egyptian fighter pilots and 18 fighter jets had arrived at an airbase in the governate of Hama.

The reports could not confirm whether Egyptian pilots participated in air operations against IS.

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