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Egyptian army exercises self-restraint in Sinai: Spokesman

Armed forces say their most important consideration is to 'protect the lives of citizens'

Ahram Online, Tuesday 6 Aug 2013
Ahmed Mohamed Ali
Egyptian armed forces spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohamed Ali (Photo: AP)
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The Egyptian armed forces have been exercising the "highest degree of self-restraint" while dealing with militants in turbulent Sinai, military spokesman Ahmed Ali said on Monday in a statement "responding to the allegations of jihadists."

Ali, who has been in the public eye since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July, stressed that military troops in Sinai are "acting in accordance with well-studied plans and specific criteria, the most important of which is to protect the lives of citizens."

"That is why operations in Sinai are drawn out …The armed forces have full respect, appreciation and recognition for the honourable residents of Sinai who have been fulfilling their patriotic role by cooperating with the interior ministry," read the statement.

"The Egyptian armed forces have never adopted violence or broken the law [while dealing with Egypt's] great people throughout history," he added.

Ali also strenuously denied reports that Egypt had allowed Israel to send military planes  beyond Egyptian borders to help the Egyptian army fight militants, saying Egypt would never allow any state to “violate its airspace or sovereignty."

Violence by militants has been reportedly increasing since the 2011 revolution, which toppled ex-president Hosni Mubarak. The security situation in the peninsula deteriorated further following the ouster of Morsi at the hands of the armed forces, with deadly clashes now taking place on a daily basis.

Critics of the Brotherhood accuse the group of instigating violence in the peninsula, after senior Brotherhood figure Mohamed El-Beltagi stated last month that violence in Sinai would immediately subside should Morsi be reinstated.

Morsi was toppled on 3 July by the military, following nationwide mass protests against his government. Brotherhood figures have demanded his reinstatement, and his supporters have been holding two sit-ins in the Greater Cairo area in support of this demand.

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