Syria security chief makes rare visit to Egypt

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Syrian security services chief Ali Mamluk held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo over the weekend on a rare visit to the country, Syrian state media said Sunday.

His Saturday visit came "at the invitation of" Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, the official SANA news agency said.

It came just one week after a surprise visit to Damascus by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who became the first Arab leader to visit the Syrian capital since the conflict began in March 2011.

Mamluk and his Egyptian counterpart discussed topics of common concern including "political, security and counterterrorism issues", SANA said.

It was the second official visit by the secretive Syrian security official to the Egyptian capital since the outbreak of Syria's seven-year war.

His last trip to Cairo was in October 2016, according to SANA reporting at the time.

Mamluk was appointed as the head of national security in 2012 after a major explosion in Damascus killed four top security officials.

He is considered to be a key member of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle and is blacklisted under EU sanctions.

In November, France issued arrest warrants for three Syrian intelligence officials -- including Mamluk -- wanted for "complicity in acts of torture" and "complicity in war crimes" among other charges.

Syria's war has killed 360,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.

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