Egypt will host war games with U.S. troops this month for the first time in eight years, though the American contingent will be much smaller than in previous exercises, officials said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
Col. Tamer el-Rifai, a spokesman for the Egyptian army, said the 10-day military exercises, known as "Bright Star," would begin September 10 and include anti-terrorism training.
"Operation Bright Star is among the most important joint American-Egyptian exercises as they reflect the depth of relations," el-Rifai said in the statement. He provided no further details.
The bi-annual exercises date back to 1981. The Obama administration, however, postponed them in 2011, following the uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak. The drills were scrapped altogether in 2013, after Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of protesters while breaking up a mass sit-in.
U.S.-Egypt ties were strained under the Obama administration, which suspended American military aid to Egypt following the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Obama released the aid two years later.
News of the renewal of the drills follows recent tensions with the Trump administration as well. After Trump’s election, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi praised the new president and said he expected greater engagement in the Middle East from his administration.
Last month, however, the United States cut or delayed some $300 million in military and economic aid over human rights concerns.
Later, Trump called Sisi and stressed he was keen on developing the relationship between their countries and overcoming any obstacles that might affect it.
Maj. Adrian J. Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed the exercises on Tuesday, saying "approximately 200" U.S. forces would participate.
"We have worked closely with our Egyptian partners to ensure the timing and circumstances were right to conduct this valuable exercise," Rankine-Galloway said. "This has been an important series of exercises since 1981, and it's a good thing for our military-to-military relationship to return to Bright Star again."