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TEL AVIV – Special armed forces associated with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood are awaiting instructions to violently suppress the anti-government protests targeting the regime of embattled President Mohamed Morsi, according to an Egyptian security official.

The official, associated with the country’s military apparatus, said the Brotherhood’s thugs are waiting to see how long the protests last before making a decision about whether or when to step in. The official said the forces are prepared to use extreme violence to suppress the protesters.

Until now, the Egyptian military has been handling most of the security deployments surrounding the protests, which kicked off yesterday with reports of millions in the streets demanding Morsi’s ouster.

The military is largely considered independent of Morsi’s government. It is seen by some as ideologically closer to the opposition.

Protest leaders are calling for more mass demonstrations tomorrow and gave Morsi until 5 p.m. local time tomorrow to step down from office.

While Morsi is not expected to step down, Egypt’s ministers of tourism, environment, communication and legal affairs quit their posts Monday to join the opposition.

Omar Amer, Morsi’s spokesman, made clear the president does not see the protest movement as the means to affect change.

“We are not making light of the protests or demands, [but] this is not how things are solved. Things are solved through dialogue and by coming to agreements,” stated Amer.

The protests have not been without violence.

Earlier today, protesters ransacked the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters, looting its offices and setting fire to the building, reportedly as police officers looked on.

Sixteen people have been killed and 781 wounded in clashes across Egypt since yesterday, according to the country’s health ministry.

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