July 2015. General Christophe Gomart accompanied the then Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on an official visit to Cairo (Egypt). Against the backdrop of arms sales, France quietly agreed to help Egypt monitor its border with Libya, a country in chaos since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi.
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Interviewed by France’s magazine 2 “Complement d’etudes” (in partnership with) Le site d investigation disclosed), former boss of Military Intelligence (DRM), the secret services of the French Army, Confirms during an interview conducted last week that this military cooperation with the Egyptians exists: “They wanted to make sure there was no jihadist group (…) coming from Libya in particular. It is still an area that is very unstable”, he remembers.
According to General Gomart, then the two countries sign a cooperation agreement to trace terrorists. And military intelligence is given a secret mission. Code name “Sarli”. “In terms of intelligence, (Egyptian) does not have satellite imagery and does not necessarily have the same resources as the French military”, He explains to us.
In early 2016, aboard a plane equipped with communications interception equipment and a powerful camera, DRM troops flew over western Egypt in search of suspected pickups and terrorists. French soldiers then share their wiretaps and their images with the Egyptians. But very quickly, the people of Sirli Mission realize that their companions are only interested in smugglers and other smugglers who cross the border which runs for over 1,200 km in the middle of the desert. Anytime for possible terrorists, according to confidential documents that we were able to consult.
Above all, the French are concerned with the first months of their mission. According to him, his information could be used to direct bombings on the ground, contrary to the agreement signed with Egypt. In September 2016, the DRM team noticed the destruction of a vehicle minutes after it was reported to the Egyptians. In a confidential note we received, French soldiers alerted: “The strike was most likely” by an aircraft seen in the field, and of which “The presence attests to the willingness of the Egyptian Air Force to use (Serli’s) information for repressive purposes against local smuggling”, they write.
When asked about these bombings, the former DRM boss stated bluntly: “To my knowledge, no such information has been given that led to the hanging of the people.” But, he Immediately angry: “That the intelligence we provided had potential consequences on terrorists, I hope, or on arms smugglers or humans: these were the people who were the potential fighters for the jihadists and the others who were the ‘bad guys’. ‘ Were.”
Christoph Gomart left the military and retired in the summer of 2017. But Operation Sirley continued under Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term.
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