By Rami Muhammad
August 4, 2020
A military source has told IranWire that on July 30, the Egyptian army began deploying troops in the southern rural region near Idlib and across western Aleppo, despite denials from Egypt that such an operation was underway.
Major Yusuf Al-Hamoud, the official spokesman for the Syrian National Army affiliated to the Syrian opposition, told IranWire in a statement: “148 members of the Egyptian army’s special forces arrived in Syria on July 26, arriving at Hama military airport in central Syria in three batches from the Egyptian city of Ismailia.”
Al-Hamoud added that two batches of 98 members, most of them officers of various ranks, were transferred to the city of Aleppo and deployed in the town of Khan Al-Asal in in the rural area west of Aleppo, which regime forces took control of during their last campaign in February. A spokesman for the National Army said the third batch of 50 members arrived at Hama Military Airport from Cairo Airport on the morning of July 27, and were transferred on the same day to the city of Saraqib, east of Idlib governorate in northern Syria.
Al-Hamoud also said the Egyptian forces were coordinating with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to train regime forces and help launch fresh military operations. At the same time, Iran-backed militias and Syrian regime forces have stepped up measures against Syrian opposition forces in Idlib and the Aleppo area.
Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia announced a ceasefire on March 5 following attacks launched by Syrian regime forces and militias loyal to them in the same area earlier this year.
Turkish news agency Anadolu quoted military sources, which it described as “reliable,” confirming that Egypt had recently sent armed forces to northern Syria in coordination with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. According to the agency, about 150 Egyptian soldiers arrived at Hama Military Airport in central Syria in late July. The troops were later deployed west of Aleppo and south of Idlib, the report said, also stating they were working with Iran-backed groups.
“No Basis Whatsoever”
IranWire has not been able not confirm the authenticity of the information, and the Egyptian army has not commented on the report published by Anadolu. But an Egyptian diplomatic source told the BBC the idea of “sending Egyptian military forces to Syria has no place in reality,” adding: “there are no Egyptian forces in Syria under any pretext.”
In a press statement, Kamal Amer, the head of the Egyptian Parliament’s National Defense and Security Committee, said rumors and reports of Egypt sending forces to Syria hold no basis whatsoever.
In order for Egypt to send forces beyond its borders, it must gain the approval of parliament, the National Defense Council, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
Two years ago, Western and Arab diplomats, as well as a spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, denied similar press reports that Egypt had sent a small number of pilots and soldiers to Syria.