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Captured Egypt soldiers return from Sudan as fighting rages

The Egyptian troops were captured by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces battling the Sudanese army.

As the fighting rages on for a sixth day in Sudan, despite a second cease-fire announcement, the Egyptian army said on Thursday that three flights carrying nearly 200 of its  troops who were held by paramilitary forces in Sudan have landed at an air base in Cairo.

The army said in a statement published on Facebook  that it has coordinated with the Sudanese authorities to allow the three flights to take off from an air base in Sudan.

It added that other troops arrived at the Egyptian Embassy in Khartoum on Thursday in coordination with the concerned Sudanese parties and the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sudan in preparation for their evacuation from Sudanese territories as soon as the security situation allows it.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Sudanese army said in a statement that 177 Egyptian air force members who were in the custody of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were airlifted from the northern town of Dongola via four Egyptian military planes. The RSF, which is battling the Sudanese army, said it handed over 27 Egyptian soldiers to the Red Cross on Thursday morning.

The Egyptian soldiers were captured by the RSF in the northern town of Merowe soon after clashes with the Sudanese army broke out on Saturday. The RSF said the troops had surrendered and released a video showing the soldiers standing next to an Egyptian cir force plane where RSF fighters could be seen celebrating the alleged seizure of the aircraft.

The Egyptian army said the soldiers were in Sudan as part of a joint military training program with its Sudanese counterpart.

At least 270 people have been killed and more than 2,600 wounded since the fighting erupted across Sudan on Saturday, according to the World Health Organization, while thousands have fled their homes as a second cease-fire seemed to collapse on Thursday.

Tensions between the Sudanese military, led by Lt. Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, which is headed by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, had been building up in the past weeks over a disagreement on the integration of the RSF into the army. Both men were part of the 2021 military coup against the civilian component of a transitional government that was formed following the ouster of former ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Egypt, which is believed to support Burhan and the military, has in recent years boosted its military ties with the neighboring country.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced earlier this week that his country is communicating with the warring sides in Sudan in a bid to mediate an end to the fighting.

“We are working to negotiate to reach a solution to this crisis as soon as possible for preventing bloodshed,” Sisi said during a Monday meeting of the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces.

He further stressed that Egypt is not taking sides in the Sudanese conflict. “The Egyptian stance is based on non-interference in the affairs of countries, and what is happening in Sudan is an internal affair.”

On the capture of the soldiers, Sisi insisted that they were in Sudan as part of joint exercises and were not deployed there to back any party against another.

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