The United States has delivered 10 Apache attack helicopters to Egypt in recent weeks after lifting part of a freeze on aid to the North African nation, a US official said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry had promised Cairo's new leadership that the aircraft - aimed to join operations in the Sinai Peninsula - would be delivered soon.

"They got there a few weeks ago," a US senior administration official told AFP news agency on Saturday.

Kerry announced in June that he was "confident" Egypt would receive the helicopter gunships soon, and reiterated that in a phone call to Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The US annually allocates some $1.5bn in aid to Egypt, including $1.3bn in military assistance.

That was frozen in October 2013 on condition that democratic reforms be enacted after the July 2013 military-led overthrow of elected president Mohamed Morsi and subsequent crackdown on his followers.

Washington said in April it planned to resume some of the annual aid for “counterterrorism” efforts in the Sinai Peninsula.

'Human rights violations'

US President Barack Obama spoke to his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Thursday and expressed concern over mass trials and the continued detention of journalists and peaceful activists.

During a telephone call, the White House said, Obama encouraged Sisi to "invest in the political, economic, and social aspirations of the Egyptian people".

Egypt's military has been battling an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula since it overthrew Morsi.

The government declared a state of emergency in parts of northern Sinai after an October 24 suicide attack near El-Arish killed 30 soldiers in the deadliest assault on security forces since Morsi's ouster.

Rebel groups claim their attacks are in retaliation for a government crackdown targeting Morsi's supporters that has left hundreds dead and thousands jailed.

Source: AFP