CAIRO - In his first public comments since last week's security crackdown on supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's top general, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has warned that the military would not allow further violence after the latest unrest.
"We will not stand by silently watching the destruction of the country and the people or the torching the nation and terrorizing the citizens," he was quoted as saying in a post on the military's Facebook page, the BBC reported on Sunday, August 18.
During a meeting with Central Military Zone men on Sunday, Sisi said the army and police are loyal to Egypt and have warned that the political conflict will drag Egypt to a dark tunnel and transform into a religion-based fighting and struggle.
The warning was the first public comments by General Sisi after hundreds of people were killed when security forces cleared two pro-Morsi camps in Cairo on Wednesday.
Before security forces launched the operation to disperse the two protest camps in Cairo, the armed forces chief asked Egyptians to take to the streets to give him a "mandate" to fight "violence and terrorism."
The general said that the military didn't seek power but instead "have the honor to protect the people's will which is much dearer (than) ruling Egypt."
Deemed as the most powerful man in Egypt, Sisi moved to oust Mohamed Morsi, the nation's first democratically elected president, last July 3.
Appointed by Morsi himself to replace old guards in Mubarak military council, the 58-year-old general said he had recognized problems with Morsi from the day he was inaugurated.
A few days ago, the protesters' camps in Rabaa and Nahda squares were broken up, leaving at least 638 dead, according to official sources, and triggering international condemnation.
But, Youssef Talaat, a member of the National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy, a coalition Islamist parties and figures supportive of Morsi, put the toll at 2,600, Anadolu Agency said.
Further clashes during a "day of rage" called by the Brotherhood last Friday left at least another 173 people across the country dead, including 95 in the capital and 25 in Alexandria.
Using stick and carrot policy, the general appeared to strike a conciliatory tone towards his opponents.
"We have given many chances... to end the crisis peacefully and call for the followers of the former regime to participate in rebuilding the democratic track and integrate in the political process and the future map instead of confrontations and destroying the Egyptian state," he said.
He added that his message to the supporters of ousted President Morsi is that "there is room for everyone".
"There is room for everyone in Egypt, and we are cautious about every drop of Egyptian blood."
Sisi's remarks come ahead of an anticipated harsher stance by the military-backed government toward the Brotherhood.
The Cabinet held an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss potentially banning the group, a long-outlawed organization that swept to power in the country's first democratic elections a year ago.
The Brotherhood has called for daily demonstrations since security forces cleared its protest camps in Cairo on Wednesday and declared a state of emergency.