THE French air force will be flying sorties from Andreas Papandreou airbase in Paphos in support operations against the Islamic State, the government confirmed yesterday.
Defence minister Christoforos Fokaides noted however that the base will not be used for bombing sorties, but only in ‘support operations’.
“Due to its geography, Cyprus is well placed to assist in the fight against international terrorism. But our role will be limited to the provision of facilities [at the Paphos airbase],” said Fokaides.
It was not the first time Cyprus has provided facilities to the French military at the airbase, he added.
The operations from the airbase will be the first in the fight against the Islamic State launched from the sovereign territory of Cyprus.
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides posted on his Twitter account that it was Cyprus’ duty to participate in the international coalition against the Islamic State.
On Wednesday during the October 1 parade he made a similar statement, saying that cultural values and freedom were at stake.
He also said that Cyprus` contribution to the fight highlighted the importance of the island`s geographical location. “It is our duty to participate to this battle, as the rest of the international community does, because our civilisation, our freedom are in danger as a result of this ‘sickening mentality’ of the jihadists,” he added.
Kasoulides denied claims that Cyprus would become a target because of its participation in international action against IS. “We are becoming a target anyway as Christians,” he said.
“We are all in the same battle,” he said.
“It is Cyprus’ duty to participate in the international coalition against the Islamic State,” Kasoulides posted on his Twitter account on Thursday.