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British bases in Cyprus used for air strikes on Iraq and Syria
British Tornado jets in Cyprus have begun air strikes on Iraq and Syria after MPs voted to commit them to Britainís third conflict in the region in 25 years.
The Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said "six of the planes have formed the spearhead of the UK contribution to the international effort to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Syria)".
He said Britain was consulting with its allies, the USA, France and other European nations, to choose targets. He said he expected little resistance from the ground.
Military sources said defence chiefs were also considering launching Tomahawk cruise missiles from a Royal Navy submarine in the region.
The British jets would join an American-led coalition which has been pounding Islamists in Syria and Iraq for days.
F/A18 Hornets flying from the USS George HW Bush carrier in the Gulf, along with drones and cruise missiles fired from warships have hit hundreds of targets in Iraq and Syria.
The Akrotiri base was built in the 1950s. It has been likened to having a permanent British aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.
Akrotiri has been a critical part of the military air bridge to Afghanistan for the past decade and is also used by the USA.
Greek Cypriot officials have previously been unwilling to allow the base to be used for strikes on nearby Arab nations, but the current conservative Anastasiades Government says they are "100 per cent in the fight against Isil".
In another development, Turkish President Regip Tayip Erdogan has announced that Turkey is preparing to invade Syrian territories.
CYPRIOTS RESCUE SYRIAN REFUGEES
In the meantime, a Cypriot cruise liner, "Salamis Filoxenia", has rescued 345 Syrian civilians last week, abandoned on board a sinking boat off the coast of Cyprus. Most of them were women and children.
Before abandoning the boat, the captain had received $6000 from each refugee to take them to Italy. The distressed refugees were given refuge by the Cypriots in a large refugee camp near Nicosia.
Health and other community services rushed to provide support to the refugees and provided all the essentials. The refugees spoke to the local media about the horrors of war which led them to flee their country.
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