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No cause for panic: Defence Minister Photiou

9 September 2013

The continuous build up of naval vessels from Russia, the USA and France in the Mediterranean is no cause for panic, South Cyprus Defence Minister, Photos Photiou has said. Even though Cyprus will be feeling particularly exposed to potential strikes on and from Syria, the defence minister stated that Cyprus would not be used as a base for military attacks and is, therefore, not a target.

Last week, 6 British RAF Typhoons arrived at Akrotiri air base. The British Ministry of Defence stated that this was purely a defensive measure. Since the arrival of the Typhoons there have been reports of 2 Syrian fighter planes being sighted over Famagusta. The defence ministry denied that the planes had flown over Turkish airspace, despite the jets coming up on radar on the island. Two RAF Typhoons were scrambled from Akrotiri and two F-16 jet fighters were also scrambled from Incirlik air base in Turkey following those reports.

The ministry of defence downplayed the event saying that the appearance of the two Syrian jets were merely a “goad and probe” gesture.

Meanwhile, a British warship, the 117 meter-long ‘Mounts Bay’, dropped anchor on Sept. 8 at Turkey’s Aegean shores.

The ship, docked at a Bodrum port, is set to remain in position until Sept. 16. British soldiers are on post in the inside section of the ship, while Turkish personnel of the Police Directorate is keeping watch on the outside.

Mounts Bay soldiers were spotted around town in Bodrum and on Kumbahçe shores, enjoying time off.

No further details regarding the route of the ship have been revealed so far, but the Bodrum stop was reportedly scheduled prior to the docking.

Following calls for a military strike against his regime, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told a US broadcaster there is “no evidence” that his government had used chemical weapons.

In the interview with PBS, to be aired on Monday, he also suggested his allies would retaliate if the West attacked.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has been lobbying hard for military action against Assad during talks with EU and Arab foreign ministers in Europe.

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