Egypt using French military intelligence to 'kill civilians' over 'smuggling': Report
Egyptian security forces have used intelligence supplied by the French military to allegedly target and kill civilians suspected of smuggling, a new report has revealed.
According to a report by investigative website Disclose, based on leaked documents, the French military was implicated in at least 19 airstrikes carried out by the Egyptian army against civilians between 2016 and 2018.
The mission between the two countries was codenamed Operation Sirli, which the report notes was designed to provide intelligence on militants' movements along Egypt's western border with Libya.
The documents, kept confidential under France’s “national defence secrecy” regulations (“le secret de la défense nationale”), originate from the services of the presidential office, the Élysée Palace, the French armed forces ministry, and the French military intelligence services, notes the report by Disclose.
The documents, it states, show "how this military cooperation exercise, kept secret from the public, was diverted from its original mission, that of reconnaissance of terrorist activity, in favour of a campaign of arbitrary executions", which involved state crimes about which the French presidential office was informed, but took no action.
Operation Sirli began in February 2016 during the government of President Francois Hollande and continued despite the qualms expressed by both French military intelligence (DRM) and the airforce about the way Egypt was using the intelligence, report stated.
In one such instance, a note was addressed to French Defence Minister Florence Parly on January 22, 2019, before French President Emmanuel Macron's official visit to Egypt.
The French military was nevertheless still deployed in Egypt, the Disclose report revealed.
France is a major weapons supplier to Egypt. French arms sales to Egypt increased considerably when Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took the helm in Cairo in 2014.
Since then, Egypt has purchased a vast range of French weapons including Rafale jet fighters, a frigate, four corvettes and two Mistral helicopter-carriers.