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Syrian security chief makes public Cairo visit

A Syrian man reacts over the debris of collapsed building after the Russian military carried out an airstrike on residential areas in Aleppo, Syria on October 17, 2016 [Ahmed Al Ahmed / Anadolu Agency]

Syria's national security chief met a senior Egyptian intelligence official in Cairo, Egypt, Syria's state news agency said yesterday, in the latest sign of a rift between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which backs Syrian opposition groups.

Ali Mamlouk met the deputy chief of the national security department in Egyptian General Intelligence, Khaled Fawzi, on a one-day visit following an invitation from Cairo, SANA reported.

"The two sides agreed to coordinate politically and on fighting the terrorism both countries now face," SANA said.

Egyptian security sources told Reuters this was Mamlouk's third such visit this year but the first to be made public as a message to Saudi Arabia that Egypt would pursue an independent foreign policy.

Egypt this month voted in favour of a Russian-backed UN resolution on Syria that excluded calls to stop bombing Aleppo, which Saudi Arabia strongly opposed.

The move was the latest indication of a rift between the two allies and came a week after a halt to shipments of Saudi fuel to Egypt under a $23 billion aid deal.

Russian aircraft and Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad have been bombarding opposition-controlled districts of Aleppo since the collapse of an internationally-brokered ceasefire last month.

The United States and some European states have accused Moscow and Syria of committing atrocities, but Russian officials deny that and accuse the West of abetting terrorists.

Egypt has been courting warmer ties with Russia, Saudi Arabia's foe in the Syrian conflict, and supports Moscow's decision to bomb the country in support of Assad.

Saudi Arabia, which has showered Egypt with billions of dollars of aid since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took power in a military coup in mid-2013, is a leading backer of opposition fighters against Al-Assad.

AfricaEgyptInternational OrganisationsMiddle EastNewsSyriaUN
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