South Cyprus’ foreign minister, Ioannis Kasoulides said today that he did not expect a British airbase on the south of the island to play a major role in any military strike against Syria.
British newspapers have speculated that RAF Akrotiri, which lies on the southern tip of Cyprus, could be used. A spokesman for Britain’s bases in Cyprus said there had been no upsurge in flight activity at the facility.
However, it has been reported that in the last 48 hours, increased activity had been observed. The ‘Guardian’ and Reuters have said that “warplanes and military transporters” have reportedly been moved to Britain’s Akrotiri airbase in the latest sign of the allied forces’ preparations for a military strike on Syria amid EU and US allies increasing rhetoric against the Syrian government.
Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca, Cyprus, claim to have spotted C-130 transport planes from their own aircraft and small formations of possibly European fighter jets from their radar screens, according to the UK daily the ‘Guardian’.
Residents near the airfield confirmed to the Guardian that:
“activity there has been much higher than normal over the past 48 hours. In the South, jets and cargo planes had begun to arrive at the British Royal Air Force base at Akrotiri and that two C-130 transport aircraft had landed at the base.”
160 kilometers from the Syrian border, Akrotiri is the UK’s largest military base outside the UK making it a likely hub for a bombing campaign and there is speculation that possible international intervention will target the Assad regime.
Western powers are weighing up options for a possible strike following a chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb last week, for which the United States said it believed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible.