Cyprus Offers Support For Iraq Airstrikes

Tom Parmenter, Sky News Correspondent
Cyprus Offers Support For Iraq Airstrikes

Cyprus' foreign minister has told Sky News his country will not stand in the way if Britain decides to launch its own airstrikes against IS forces in Iraq.

Over the past week, RAF Akrotiri on the southern side of Cyprus has been used as the British base for the humanitarian aid drops and various reconnaissance missions.

So far, the RAF's Tornado jets have flown unarmed on their missions and Britain has yet to follow the US in launching missiles against militant targets in Iraq.

The Cypriot foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides told Sky News that Britain would have to consult with him ahead of such a move.

But he said: "I'm certain that we will not object to the use of the British bases for any military operation against a terrorist organisation like this one which is the worst kind that we have ever met."

RAF Akrotiri was established in 1955 and sits within a small area classed as a British Overseas Territory, but the military has enjoyed a supportive relationship with Cyprus.

Its position 150 miles from the Syrian coast means the island is strategically vital to the ongoing operations.

Mr Kasoulides believes that the advance of Islamic State (IS) jihadist fighters has alarmed people across the region.

He said: "I think it is a very real threat, it is already demonstrable.

"All the neighbouring countries are at risk and I think having in mind some of their operations near the shores of the Mediterranean, although remote, we consider ourselves being in danger as well.

"We consider ourselves as the frontline of the European Union in this part of the world."

David Cameron has said Britain will use its "military prowess" in tackling the advance of IS forces across Iraq and Syria but has reassured the public that he will not be taking Britain into another Iraq war.