TEL AVIV – Egypt has received clear warnings from U.S. officials insisting that the country withdraw its military experts from their posts at Syrian army bases, Egyptian diplomatic sources told the Arab media.
According to the sources, who spoke to the respected pan-Arab newspaper Al-Araby, “The American military officials communicated their demand to their Egyptian colleagues, a demand that included a clear warning to remove Egyptian experts who are active in Syrian air force bases under the control of the Bashar Assad regime.”
The diplomats also said that Egypt was not informed beforehand of U.S. intentions to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air force base last week in response to a chemical weapons attack in the Idlib region that was blamed on the forces of Syrian President Assad.
In the wake of the demand and warning from the U.S., Egypt’s high military commanders told the experts in Syria to take all necessary precautions until the situation has been clarified with the U.S. The sources said Egypt was caught off guard by the force of the American attack on Syria.
The diplomats’ comments bolster previous reports that Egyptian pilots are present and active in Syria, particularly at the Hama base run by the Syrian air force. Egyptian President Sisi previously told media outlets that “Egypt needs to help national forces in Syria, Libya and Iraq in order to help return security to those countries.”
Arab media reported recently that Egypt has increased its aid to the Syrian army. According to the reports, Egypt is sending ammunition to Syria as well as military experts and pilots. It was also reported that the number of Egyptian pilots active in the Syrian military has reached 18 and two Egyptian colonels participate in an operation command there.
Egyptian support for Syria led to a political break between Saudi Arabia and Egypt as the former ceased financial aid to Egypt and stopped ARMCO oil shipments. The oil flow to Egypt was only recently renewed.
The return of Saudi oil to Egypt occurred in part due to U.S. pressure on the two nations to reconcile and to a Jordanian initiative at an Arab League meeting two weeks ago to renew the partnership between the two countries.