The Egyptian army has deployed armored vehicles near major protest venues in Cairo in advance of planned demonstrations by opponents and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. Since late Thursday, armored vehicles have been stationed near Cairo's Tahrir Square, where anti-Morsi demonstrators are planning mass rallies on Friday, according to an Anadolu Agency correspondent. Armored vehicles have also been dispatched to the University Bridge and Zuweil Street near Giza's Nahda Square, where thousands of Morsi loyalists have camped out for more than three weeks. The army also deployed armored vehicles some two kilometers from Rab'a Al-Adaweya Square in eastern Cairo, the site of a four-week-old pro-Morsi sit-in. Late Thursday, a military helicopter dropped leaflets on Morsi loyalists arrayed in the square, urging them not to resort to violence against their political rivals. "Your Armed Forces are keen to keep the homeland safe and strong, establish justice and combat violence and aggression," the leaflets read. "We are not against you. We support you to support your homeland," it added. "Don't take up arms against your brother... Let's all stand together against violence and terrorism."
Egypt is bracing for mass protests on Friday by both pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators.
Morsi was ousted by the army on July 3 after mass demonstrations against his regime.
Army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday urged Egyptians to take to the streets for mass Friday protests to "authorize" him to "confront violence."
"I'm asking the Egyptian people to go out like they did on June 30 and July 3," he said in a televised address. "I want you to show the world that you are authorizing me to confront any possible violence and terrorism."
The call has prompted fears that al-Sisi was seeking a popular mandate for the violent dispersal of pro-Morsi demonstrations and sit-ins.
Defiant Morsi supporters, too, are gearing up for mass Friday protests as part of an ongoing campaign against what they view as a "military coup against constitutional legitimacy."