CAIRO (Reuters) - Russia’s intervention in Syria will curtail the spread of terrorism and help deal a fatal blow to Islamic State in the war-torn country, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Saturday.
Russia launched air strikes in Syria on Wednesday in its biggest Middle East intervention in decades, marking a dramatic escalation in a more than four-year-old civil war in which every major country in the region has a stake.
“Russia’s entrance, given its potential and capabilities, is something we see is going to have an effect on limiting terrorism in Syria and eradicating it,” Shoukry said in a televised interview on Saturday.
Vladimir Putin said he is striking Islamic State and helping Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, long Russia’s closest ally in the region. But the United States is concerned that Moscow is propping up Assad, who Washington has long held should leave.
Egypt has avoided showing support for al-Assad, a leader whom Saudi Arabia, a key Egyptian ally that has propped up the country economically, believes should be ousted.
Shoukry’s comments are just the latest sign of warming relations between Russia and Egypt. In a state visit to Russia by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in August, the two countries called for a coalition to fight terrorism in the Middle East.
In June, Egypt and Russia held their first-ever joint naval exercise.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most-populous nation, is confronted by an increasingly violent insurgency in North Sinai, where the most active militant group has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Alan Crosby