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Turkey-Syria earthquake: Egypt's Sisi calls Assad for first time offering help

Egyptian president also calls Turkey's Erdogan, sending condolences and offer for humanitarian assistance
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at al-Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo on 30 January 2023 (AFP)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at al-Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo on 30 January 2023 (AFP)

Egypt’s president has called his Syrian counterpart to offer support following Monday’s major earthquake, in the first official exchange between the two leaders.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi offered “sincere condolences” to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, a spokesperson for the Egyptian presidency said on Tuesday.

"President Sisi reiterated Egypt's solidarity with Syria and its brotherly people in this calamity. He also directed that all possible aid be provided to Syria," presidential spokesperson Ahmed Fahmy said in a statement.

Assad thanked Egypt's position, which he said reflected the "fraternal relations" between the two countries, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

The US Geological Survey said a 7.8-magnitude quake first struck at 4:17 am (0117 GMT) on Monday at a depth of about 18km near the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep. 

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A second 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey's Kahramanmaras province shortly after. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday that the death toll had jumped to 3,549 in Turkey, with more than 22,000 people wounded. 

The death toll in Syria reached 1,622, according to figures compiled by the Syrian government and civil defence volunteers in opposition-held territory. 

Sisi calls Erdogan 

Sisi also held a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan on Tuesday. 

Spokesperson Ahmed Fahmy said the president offered condolences and sympathy to the victims of the earthquake in Turkey, and added that Cairo would provide humanitarian assistance and relief.

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The Syrian government became an international pariah when it violently cracked down on protests in 2011, sparking a civil war that continues today.

But in recent years, many Arab countries, most prominently the UAE, have resumed ties with Damascus.

A growing number of countries in the region have started to accept Assad as the war’s victor and have made moves towards reconciliation. Jordan's King Abdullah II held a phone call with Assad in October 2021 and Algeria has voiced support for Syria rejoining the Arab League.

In December, talks between the Syrian and Turkish defence ministers were held in Moscow in the highest-level encounter reported between the neighbouring countries since the war began.

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