No plan for Egyptian military action against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria

October 20, 2014 18:02

Egypt has no plans to provide the United States with direct military assistance in its war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria even though American aerial bombardment may not be enough to defeat the group, the country's prime minister said.

But Ibrahim Mehleb left open the possibility of military action if Cairo's Gulf Arab allies are threatened by the al-Qaida offshoot.With one of the biggest armies in the Middle East and wide experience in battling militancy, Egypt is regarded as a vital ally for the United States, which provides billions of dollars in annual aid to Cairo.

Mehleb said Egypt's priority is ensuring stability at home, where security officials face resilient jihadist insurgents based in the Sinai Peninsula and regard militants in neighboring Libya as a serious threat.

"For the Egyptian army the most important thing is its borders and the stability of its country and the protection of its country," Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb told Reuters in an interview.

He spoke hours after a bomb killed six Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai.

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