Source: Israel Hayom
The U.S. is providing additional military assistance to peacekeeping forces in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to strengthen security in the region, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Monday. He said that so far the Pentagon had not moved to send additional U.S. troops to Sinai, but a truck-mounted tracking system sent to the Sinai would allow Egyptian troops to follow friendly forces.
Just over a week ago, masked terrorists killed 16 Egyptian soldiers at a checkpoint along the border with Gaza and Israel, then burst through a security fence into Israel. Israel detected the infiltration and launched an airstrike to stop the assault. The attack sparked a major Egyptian military operation in the peninsula aimed at stamping out Islamic militant groups that have grown in numbers and in boldness since the ousting last year of President Hosni Mubarak.
“We just want to make sure that we know how those forces are deployed in order to ensure that we can more effectively go after those terrorists that would try to create an incident or terrorist act,” Panetta said.
The U.S. has about 800 troops in the Sinai as part of an international peacekeeping force. Panetta did not rule out sending more U.S. forces to Sinai, but said the U.S. was working closely with Egyptian leaders “to determine what additional help they may need in order to ensure that the area is secured.”
Panetta’s comments came after Washington on Monday encouraged Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s government and Egypt’s military to work together, a day after Morsi dismissed Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the country’s long-standing defense minister and army chief and replaced him with Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
“It is important for the Egyptian military and civilian leadership to work closely together to address the economic and security challenges facing Egypt,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Monday. “We hope that President Morsi’s announcement will serve the interests of the Egyptian people.”
Read More: Israel Hayom