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Egypt not picking sides in Syria war, says FM

Shoukry says that he sees no military solution to the Syrian conflict [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 December, 2016

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Egypt is not picking sides in Syria and wants the bloody conflict to come to an end through a political solution, Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry has said.

Egypt is not picking sides in Syria and wants the bloody conflict to come to an end through a political solution, Egypt's foreign minister has said.

Sameh Shoukry told US media on Wednesday that Syrians, including rebels, deserve to choose the future of their country, after weeks of media speculation that Egyptian authorities had decided to back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Egypt sides with the Syrian people we have close communication with the national opposition," Shoukry told CNN.

"The Syrian opposition and the Syrian people deserve the opportunity to take matters into their own hands and forge their own future of Syria within a political, peaceful process."

Shoukry added that he saw no military solution to the conflict and that "enough was enough."

Since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi expressed support for the Syrian military during an interview last month, local and foreign press have been filled with reports Cairo had sided with Assad.

Shoukry told PBS that Sisi had in fact only said he backed "national armies" in their fight against terrorism – not the Assad regime in particular.

Shoukry also said that reports that Egyptian troops were stationed in Syria were "categorically false".

Egyptian political sources told The New Arab that Sisi has instructed Shoukry to change his tune on Syria and "gradually move towards supporting that Assad step down from power".

The move could be to appease Saudi Arabia after ties appear have frayed between the two longtime allies amid disagreements over Syria.

Saudi Arabia backs rebels trying to oust Assad, while Egypt until now has seemed to express support for the Syrian leader.

This week, sources told The New Arab that Saudi Arabia would not mend ties with Egypt until Shukri was sacked and two contested Red Sea islands were transferred to Saudi sovereignty.

Kuwait's deputy foreign minister said this week that his country would like to "help clear the air" between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and potentially bring about a reconciliation.

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