Canada's Afghan forces to use Germany, Cyprus

21st January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Canada will use Germany and Cyprus as staging points to support Canadian military operations in Afghanistan, an Ottawa government spokesman said Friday.

"The Canadian Forces selected two locations in Europe, in Cyprus and Germany, to serve support activities to our operations in Afghanistan which were recently transferred from Camp Mirage," Jay Paxton, spokesman for Defense Minister Peter MacKay, told AFP.

Canada was forced last year to close its Camp Mirage military base in Dubai that was part of a key supply route to Afghanistan after refusing to grant the United Arab Emirates' two national carriers more landing rights.

Paxton said Canada's military and foreign affairs department are "assessing options" to support a training mission centered in Kabul, Afghanistan, after combat troops exit the war-torn nation.

"As this analysis continues, Cyprus and Germany will support operations for our work in Afghanistan, as necessary," he said.

Ottawa is to send 950 military trainers to Kabul until 2014 in a non-combat role to help Afghan soldiers take over security, following the withdrawal of its 2,800 combat troops from Kandahar in the south.

Earlier, Cyprus officials said Canadian troops and equipment will use Cyprus as a staging post when Ottawa pulls its troops from Afghanistan next year.

Cypriot government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou earlier denied a newspaper report that Canada would set up a military base in Cyprus to support operations in Afghanistan.

"The Canadian government requested... to allow Cyprus to be used as a transit station for the withdrawal of its military forces from Afghanistan and their return home," said Stefanou.

"There will be no military base established. For the transit of equipment, existing infrastructure will be used and all arrangements will be made in cooperation and under the supervision of the Cypriot authorities."

Cyprus has been used by Canadian troops as a place to decompress after serving on the front line in Afghanistan and before they return home.

© 2011 AFP

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