France's alleged involvement in airstrikes on civilians in Egypt unveiled
An investigative website has revealed France's alleged involvement in aerial attacks on civilians in a joint "covert operation" with Egypt at the Libyan border in 2016-2018.
A number of classified documents from the French Directorate of Military Intelligence, Armed Forces Ministry and Armed Forces General Staff revealed a secret French intelligence operation in Egypt, called Operation Sirli, according to Disclose website.
On July 25, 2015, then-Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is current French foreign minister, flew to the Egyptian capital Cairo with then-DRM head Gen. Christophe Gomart where they met with then-Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhy.
According to the website, the controversial operation was born on the very same day, without signing any official agreement.
Sharing intelligence data with Egypt as of February 2016, French forces involved in the operation informed their superiors that Egypt targeted civilians accused of drug smuggling, and not terrorists, with the information provided by France, according to Disclose.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an official source told Disclose: "Only civilians were killed (in the operation). The terrorists are not found in this part of the desert, they are mainly located in the Sinai, at the far northeast of the country."
Meanwhile, the “confidential-defense” documents obtained by Disclose revealed that the French forces were involved in at least 19 airstrikes against civilians between 2016 and 2018, resulting in killing of hundreds of civilians.
The report said that the DRM and French Air Force after two years since the start of operation expressed their concerns to the Elysee Palace over indiscriminate strikes.
However, it added that French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly's letter to her Egyptian counterpart from July 31, 2017 read:
"You can rest assured that DRM will continue to be your fully committed partner."
Despite all the alleged evidence of French complicity in the killings of civilians, the investigative website said that "the French army is still deployed in the Egyptian desert."
In May, Disclose revealed that Egypt signed an agreement to purchase Rafale fighter jets from France, a deal worth €3.75 billion ($4.52 billion).
It revealed that a major weapons sale by France to Egypt was "secretly" signed on April 26 at the request of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Besides the warplane agreement, the deal agreed to between the two states also concerns two other contracts with the France-based missile manufacturing consortium MBDA and avionics firm Safran Electronics & Defense, with a total worth of €200 million ($240.8 million).
As a result, the total value of the deal was €3.95 billion ($4.75 billion).
The Disclose also noted that the Egyptian state has obtained a loan of which 85% is to be guaranteed by France.