PICTURES, VIDEO

US urges Egypt to allow pro-Mursi protests

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi wave his posters and national flags as one carries her daughter with a mask of him during a protest in Nahda Square, where protesters have installed their camp near Cairo University in Giza, south
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi wave his posters and national flags as one carries her daughter with a mask of him during a protest in Nahda Square, where protesters have installed their camp near Cairo University in Giza, southwestern Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A Supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi flashes victory signs as he puts on a mask with his picture during a protest in Nahda Square, where protesters have installed their camp near Cairo University in Giza, in south-western of Cairo,
A Supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi flashes victory signs as he puts on a mask with his picture during a protest in Nahda Square, where protesters have installed their camp near Cairo University in Giza, in south-western of Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi watch the news at their tent in Nahda Square, where protesters have installed their camp near Cairo University in Giza, south-western Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi watch the news at their tent in Nahda Square, where protesters have installed their camp near Cairo University in Giza, south-western Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi stand behind sand barriers recently set up where supporters of Morsi have installed a camp and held daily rallies outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHO
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi stand behind sand barriers recently set up where supporters of Morsi have installed a camp and held daily rallies outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi rest in a tent watching TV outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi rest in a tent watching TV outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
An Egyptian boy rests on a water tank outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
An Egyptian boy rests on a water tank outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Clothes hang on a wall next to a poster of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Clothes hang on a wall next to a poster of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Muslim Brotherhood supporters shout slogans as they wave portraits of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi during a demonstration in the port city of Alexandria on Aug 13, 2013, against the former leader's overthrow by the military.  -- PHOTO:
Muslim Brotherhood supporters shout slogans as they wave portraits of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi during a demonstration in the port city of Alexandria on Aug 13, 2013, against the former leader's overthrow by the military.  -- PHOTO: AFP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi prepare food to distribute to protesters outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where they have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: A
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi prepare food to distribute to protesters outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where they have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A Supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi sprays water on protesters outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where they have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013.  -- PHOTO: AP
A Supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi sprays water on protesters outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where they have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013.  -- PHOTO: AP
Two Egyptian children play with balloons as they sit next to a picture of Morsi outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on T
Two Egyptian children play with balloons as they sit next to a picture of Morsi outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi distribute food in plastic dishes to protesters outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where they have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- P
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi distribute food in plastic dishes to protesters outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where they have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi watches for a generator outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi watches for a generator outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi serve food on plastic dishes to distribute to protesters outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where they have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi serve food on plastic dishes to distribute to protesters outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where they have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi gets his hair cut in a tent outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi gets his hair cut in a tent outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi distribute cold water to protesters outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where they have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi distribute cold water to protesters outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where they have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Mursi sit under a banner of Mr Mursi with Arabic writing that reads "To the great Egyptian people, Happy year, Congrats on the Eid from the heart, Mohammed Mursi," outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, wher
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Mursi sit under a banner of Mr Mursi with Arabic writing that reads "To the great Egyptian people, Happy year, Congrats on the Eid from the heart, Mohammed Mursi," outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters have installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Tuesday urged Egypt's military-backed interim government to allow supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi to protest freely as fresh demonstrations took place in Cairo.

State Department deputy spokesman Marie Harf said Washington regarded freedom to protest as a "key part" of the democratic process but would be concerned by reports of violence.

Clashes between pro and anti-Mursi demonstrators and security forces have killed more than 250 people since the end of June.

"Clearly, we're watching the situation on the ground very closely," Ms Harf said. "We encourage the interim government to allow people to protest - that's a key part of moving forward with the democratic process, and of course, would be concerned by new reports of violence."

Ms Harf was speaking after Mursi supporters held a wave of demonstrations outside several Egyptian ministries.

Police fired tear gas to break up brief clashes that erupted between Mursi loyalists and residents of one Cairo neighbourhood.

"I know the situation is unfolding as we speak now, but we'll be monitoring it closely," Ms Harf said.

Washington has walked a careful line since the democratically-elected Mr Mursi, Egypt's first Islamist leader, was ousted by the military on July 3 amid massive protests against his rule.

The United States, which provides US$1.5 billion (S$1.9 billion) in mostly military aid to Egypt every year, maintains close ties to the Egyptian military but says it favors a rapid return to elected civilian rule.

"I would say that we made clear that we had some concerns with the way Mr Mursi was governing," Ms Harf said.

"And when we have similar concerns with the way the interim government is acting, we will certainly make those clear to the interim government as well."

US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to give his backing to the overthrow of Mr Mursi earlier this month, stating that the army had acted to "restore democracy."

But he later appeared to dial back on the comment, stating: "Egypt needs to get back to a new normal."

The United States has declined to describe Mr Mursi's ouster as a "coup" to avoid having to cut the US$1.3 billion in aid to Egypt's military. US law stipulates that any military aid must be suspended in the event of a civilian government being ousted by the military.