Cyprus makes available its facilities to France to fight Islamic State

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Cyprus has confirmed  that all its facilities were available to France to fight the Islamic State (IS), following the murderous Paris attacks last Friday.

“We would be very glad to provide our facilities in full solidarity,” Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told reporters at a joint press conference with visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

“I want to make it clear that we will wait for the French authorities, if they want to ask for something from us, particularly as regards our location and our facilities,” Kasoulides said.
Cyprus is the closest European Union state to Syria and Iraq, its most eastern tip being only about 100 km from Syrian shores.

France has already been granted facilities at a Cypriot air base near the western city of Paphos, under a defense pact, but it has not made use of it for attacks against the Islamic State.

Cypriot and French military units and personnel completed a join search and rescue operation on Thursday, with the French ship “La Fayette” taking part in the drills.

Asked if Cyprus was willing to support launching attacks from its soil against the Islamic State, Kasoulides said, “We have not been asked about launching (attacks), but as you know, we have given all our support to the British bases launching from Cyprus.”

Former colonial power Britain has retained two sovereign military bases inCyprus after granting independence to the eastern Mediterranean island in 1960.

British Tornados have been flying sorties against the Islamic State in Iraq since last year.

Hammond said Britain had no plans at the moment to step up operations from its Royal Air Force base at Akrotiri, on the southern shores of Cyprus, though British Prime Minister David Cameron said after the Paris attacks that he would seek approval from parliament to launch attacks in Syria as well.

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