President Biden briefed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday about the United States’s efforts to avoid escalating conflicts in the Middle East.
The White House said that Biden spoke with Sisi to brief him on what the U.S. is doing to deter regional actors from expanding the conflict in Gaza and what efforts are going on to release the more than 200 hostages being held by Hamas, a militant group designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S.
“President Biden and President Sisi affirmed their commitment to work together to set the conditions for a durable and sustainable peace in the Middle East to include the establishment of a Palestinian state,” the White House said.
There have been concerns that the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas since the initial attack on Oct. 7 could escalate into more violence throughout the Middle East region. There have been at least 19 attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in the Middle East over the past two weeks, including four times in Syria and 12 times in Iraq. There were also three new attacks Thursday.
Biden ordered U.S. military forces Friday to carry out “self-defense airstrikes” on a weapons storage facility and an ammunition storage area used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated groups in eastern Syria.
Iran-backed proxies have stepped up attacks on U.S. troops abroad in the wake of Israel’s retaliation on Hamas after its attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Though Iran has long been known to support the militant group in the past, the U.S. has said it does not see evidence of a direct role in the Oct. 7 deadly attack against Israel.
Biden also spoke with Sisi to convey his gratitude for Egypt’s role in facilitating the shipment of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. The White House said that Biden and Sisi “committed to the significant acceleration and increase of assistance flowing into Gaza beginning today and then continuously.”
Humanitarian aid has also been scarce in Gaza, as hospitals continue to run low on necessary supplies to treat their patients. Aid began crossing into Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah Crossing about two weeks after the fighting broke out, but some humanitarian groups and officials have warned that the situation in Gaza could become worse without fuel.