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Sun 21 Dec 2014 12:35 PM

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Egypt receives 10 Apache helicopters from US

A sign of easing tensions between the long-time allies confronting Islamist extremism across the region.

Egypt receives 10 Apache helicopters from US

Egypt received 10 Apache helicopters from the
United States in the past week, security sources said on Saturday, a sign of
easing tensions between the long-time allies confronting Islamist extremism
across the region.

The United States originally announced in April
that it had decided to lift its hold on the delivery of the attack helicopters,
imposed last year after the military toppled elected president Mohamed Mursi
and cracked down hard on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

The Pentagon said in September that the United
States would deliver the helicopters, built by Boeing Co., to support Cairo's
counter-terrorism efforts.

Egypt is fighting an Islamist insurgency targeting
mostly security personnel and based mainly in the lawless Sinai Peninsula
bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The most powerful militant group there, Ansar Bayt
Al Maqdis, swore allegiance last month to ISIL, the Al Qaeda offshoot that
swept across northern Iraq and Syria earlier this year and now faces US-led air
strikes.

Egypt has created a one-kilometre buffer zone along
the border with Gaza by clearing houses and trees and destroying subterranean
tunnels it says militants use to smuggle arms from Islamist-controlled Gaza.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief
ousted Mursi, has also expressed concern over militants who are thriving in the
chaos of post-Gaddafi Libya and are opposed to the Cairo government.

Critics say Egypt's crackdown on Islamists is
trampling on human rights and expanding to include peaceful protesters as well
as secular and liberal activists.

In another sign of improving relations between the
two countries, Stephen Beecroft, the new US ambassador to Egypt, arrived in
Cairo on Thursday. The previous ambassador left the post more than a year ago
following Mursi's ouster.

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