Egypt says Syria visa rules only a temporary measure

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Egypt's new visa rules for Syrians imposed after the army's removal of President Mohamed Mursi are only a temporary security measure and will not erode Egyptian support for the Syrian revolution, state media said on Monday.

Last week, Egypt introduced visa requirements for Syrians after local media and some officials accused Syrian Islamists of joining deadly clashes between Mursi's supporters and the military that ousted him earlier this month.

Egypt has since turned back several flights from Syria carrying hundreds of passengers and deported Syrians who arrived via other countries at Cairo airport, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the conflict pitting President Bashar al-Assad's armed forces against insurgents trying to overthrow him. The bloodshed, which began in March 2011, has killed an estimated 100,000 people and driven1.7 millions abroad.

Egypt's foreign ministry told UNHCR the visa rules for Syrians were only a temporary measure linked to the current unstable security situation, the state news agency MENA said.

“This does not at all signal any change to Egypt's firm stance of supporting the legitimate ambitions of Syrians towards democracy,” a foreign ministry spokesman told MENA.

Egypt is a member of the Friends of Syria group of Western and U.S.-aligned Arab powers that support the revolt against Assad, whose main allies are Russia and Iran.

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