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MILITARY

France and Egypt in joint military exercise

Egypt and France began Sunday joint manoeuvres in the Mediterranean in which French Rafale warplanes purchased by Cairo last year are taking part, the Egyptian army said.

France and Egypt in joint military exercise
France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft takes part in the exercise. Khalil Mazraawi/AFP

The “Ramses 2016” military and naval exercise is being held off the coast of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and are expected to last for several days, the army said on its Facebook page.

Paris announced the manoeuvres Tuesday saying the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which is being used to launch air strikes on the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, would also take part.

The drill is aimed at “sharing our expertise with the Egyptian military… one of our main Middle East partners,” the French defence ministry said at the time.

The Egyptian army said a French multi-mission frigate purchased by Cairo last year would also take part in the drill along with Rafale combat jets and F-16 warplanes.

In 2015, Cairo signed a multi-billion euro deal to purchase from France 24 Rafale fighters, of which six have been already delivered.

On December 19, the Charles de Gaulle carrier took command in the Gulf of the naval contingent operating as part of the international coalition fighting the jihadist IS group.

The French-Egyptian manoeuvres are taking place amid Western concerns over the growing influence of IS in Libya, a country bordering Egypt.

MILITARY

France vows to stay in Syria even after US leaves

France will maintain its participation in the coalition fighting Islamic State forces in Syria, government officials said Thursday after President Donald Trump surprised Washington's allies by ordering US troops home.

France vows to stay in Syria even after US leaves
Photo: AFP
“For now of course we remain in Syria,” France's European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on CNews television, adding “the fight against terrorism is not over.”
   
“It's true that the coalition has made significant progress in Syria, but this fight continues, and we will continue it,” she said.
   
France has stationed fighter jets in Jordan and artillery along the Syrian border in Iraq as part of the US-led coalition, as well as an undisclosed number of special forces on the ground.
 
On Wednesday Trump said in a Twitter video that “We've won against ISIS,” another acronym for the Islamic State group, and that it was time to bring the roughly 2,000 US soldiers fighting the jihadists home.
   
It was a stunning reversal of a US policy which had vowed its support for Kurdish allies who have been key fighters against IS forces in Syria.
 
Its allies have warned that despite losing most of the territory it once controlled during the bloody Syrian civil war, the IS threat has not been totally eradicated.
   
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Twitter Thursday that the group “has not been wiped of the map, nor have its roots.”
 
“We must definitively defeat the last pockets of this terrorist organisation,” she said.
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