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Editor Blames Egypt’s Ex-air Force Chiefs for False Claim of U.S. Air Role in War

The editor of the semi-official Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, has blamed the former commanders of Egypt’s Air Force for making a claim “without evidence” that the United States Air Force had helped Israel during last June’s Six-Day War. According to a London Times dispatch from Cairo, Mohammed Heykal charged, in his weekly article, that the claim was made by the Air Force commanders in order to cover up their own miscalculations and mistakes. He said they had estimated Egyptian air superiority over Israel at three-to-one while in reality the exact opposite was the case.

(The charge that American and British aircraft, operating from carriers in the eastern Mediterranean, had aided Israel was broadcast by President Nasser of Egypt to account for the shattering defeat suffered by Egypt’s armed forces in the Sinai. The charge, which was never fully retracted by Nasser, preceded his severance of diplomatic relations with the United States and Britain. Relations have since been restored with Britain but not with the U.S.)

According to the Times dispatch, Mr. Heykal also accused the former commanders of Egypt’s ground forces of ordering a premature withdrawal from the Sinai in the face of advancing Israeli forces last June. He said that Egyptian losses during the first three days of war were no more than 250 killed and that all the remaining losses were suffered after the withdrawal order “in that horrifying nightmare atmosphere.” Mr. Heykal maintained that while an Egyptian withdrawal had been necessary in 1956 (during Israel’s Sinai campaign) “it was the last strategy called for in 1967.”

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