Syria’s Assad regime has given Egypt the green light to play a coordinating role between it and UN agencies operating in Damascus with a view to aiding the evacuation of Aleppo and allowing humanitarian aid into the city, according to a Thursday statement issued by Egypt’s Foreign Ministry.
Egypt’s new interest in war-battered Aleppo comes within the context of Cairo’s “commitment to addressing Aleppo’s humanitarian situation and helping alleviate the suffering of the city’s people”, the ministry statement read.
“It also reflects Egypt’s vision for dealing with the Syrian crisis,” it added.
Cairo, the ministry stressed, “wants to see a comprehensive ceasefire in all parts of Syria and the resumption of negotiations with a view to reaching a political solution that… maintains the country’s unity, territorial integrity and state institutions”.
The Foreign Ministry added: “Our embassy in Damascus has received approval for our endeavors from the Syrian government. Our charge d’affaires in Damascus… will soon visit Aleppo where he will oversee the evacuation of the city’s injured and elderly.”
On Monday, Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo with a view to coordinating political stances between Damascus and Cairo, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported.
According to SANA, Mamlouk’s one-day visit — during which he met his Egyptian counterpart, Khaled Fawzi, and other security officials — came at Egypt’s request.
On Thursday, the Syrian regime declared a unilateral ceasefire to allow besieged opposition forces to leave eastern Aleppo — a move described by some opposition figures as “psychological warfare”.
The latest developments come amid mounting tension between Egypt and Saudi Arabia after Cairo voted in favor of a Russian draft resolution at the UN Security Council earlier this month calling for a ceasefire in Syria.
Riyadh opposed the Russian draft resolution, which ultimately failed to garner the votes needed for ratification.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests — which erupted as part of the “Arab Spring” uprisings — with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-torn country, according to UN figures.
However, the Syrian Center for Policy Research, a Beirut-based NGO, puts the death toll from the five-year conflict at more than 470,000.