Egyptian prime minister rejects DAESH Russian airplane claim

Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Ismail rejects DAESH's claim that it downed a Russian passenger plane, saying technical problems probably the reason behind the tragedy, as Russian experts arrive in Cairo for investigations

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (C) arrives at a morgue to check the bodies of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed early morning in El Arish, Egypt, October 31, 2015.

Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said the likely cause of the crash of a Russian passenger jet that killed 224 people on Saturday was technical problems. Thus dismissing claims of DAESH responsibility, Ismail told a press conference on Saturday night.

Russia's Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov has also denied the claims.

DAESH's affiliate in Egypt, Wilayet Sinai (Sinai Province), claimed that it took down the Russian airliner that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, killing all on board.

The militant group released a video showing an airplane being hit with a missile, and then descending in flames. Claiming that the video shows the Russian plane going down, they said the attack was in retaliation for Russia's intervention in Syria.

"The soldiers of the caliphate succeeded in bringing down a Russian plane in Sinai," the terrorist organisation said in a statement quoted on the Aamaq News Agency's website, the statement added that the attack was "in response to Russian airstrikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land."

Sokolov told the Russian Interfax news agency that DAESH’s claims can't be considered accurate because the terrorists probably don’t have missiles capable of downing a plane at 30,000 feet. "Based on our contacts with the Egyptian side, the information that the airplane was shot down must not be considered reliable," Sokolov said.

"Unfortunately, all passengers of Kogalymavia flight 9268 Sharm el Sheikh - Saint Petersburg have died. We issue condolences to family and friends," the Russian Embassy announced on its Facebook page hours after the crash.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday declared a day of mourning for what is the worst airline disaster in Russia's history.

Three airlines so far have decided not to fly over the Sinai Peninsula until more information is available from an investigation, including Fly Emirates, Air France and Lufthansa. The plane's black boxes have been found and sent for analysis, officials said.

Russian experts arrive in Cairo

Russia's transport minister and a team of high-level investigators arrived in Cairo on Sunday to assist Egyptian authorities investigating the plane crash in getting to the root of the cause of the crash.

Russian Volga region transport prosecutors said on Sunday that the quality of the fuel used by the Russian airliner met all necessary requirements, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. More details from the investigation are due to be revealed.

Clothes on the ground at the site where the Russian airliner crashed in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015.

Search parameters around the plane's debris have been widened by 50 kilometers. So far 163 bodies have been recovered and transported to Cairo’s biggest morgue, Zeinhom, according to an Egyptian cabinet statement. Russian investigators and experts are present at Zeinhom morgue to help identify the bodies.

A relative of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, mourns at a hotel near Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, October 31, 2015.

Russia's Interfax news agency cited Maiya Ivanova from the Volga region transport prosecutors' office as saying that the Plane’s crew was medically fit. "The crew underwent a medical examination before flying to Sharm el Sheikh, and they were declared fit to fly," she said on Sunday.

DAESH in Sinai Province

Since Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi was deposed in July 2013, Sinai has faced with a wave of violence, marking the rise of Wilayet Sinai, a DAESH affiliate based in the country's Sinai Province.

Wilayet Sinai has killed hundreds of Egyptian Army and police personnel while the Egyptian government has continued to jail and try hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters since 2013. The Egyptian government, headed by president and former army general Abdel Fattah el Sisi, does not differentiate between the Brotherhood and more hardline violent groups like Wilayet Sinai.

 Prime Minister Sherif Ismail looks at the remains of a plane crash at the desert in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015.

With thousands of Brotherhood members and supporters either killed or jailed, the government is still struggling to gain control of the torn Sinai Peninsula crippled by the insurgency.

Russiam military intervention in Syria

Russia started launching air strikes in Syria in September 30 with the initial claim that it would be battling DAESH, signalling a new chapter in the Syrian conflict. However, in time Russia's intentions in Syria appeared only to be protecting the Bashar al Assad regime and its withering authority.

Egypt has so far supported the Russian military intervention in Syria, calling it "effective" in battling terrorism.

Since the beginning of the four-year war in Syria, more than 250,000 Syrians have been killed, mainly by the Assad regime, whilst half of the country’s population is displaced internally or in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq. More than 350,000 Syrians have also claimed asylum in Europe.

TRTWorld and agencies