Cyprus offers to help France fight IS
Cyprus said on Thursday it is ready to help fellow EU member France in its fight against the Islamic State group by making its facilities available on the island.
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said France had yet to request any assistance after launching air strikes against IS in Syria following attacks on Paris claimed by the jihadist group that killed 129 people last Friday.
But Kasoulides said Cyprus was prepared to heed the call if needed.
War-torn Syria, where IS has its main stronghold in Raqa, is located about 110 kilometres (68 miles) from the Mediterranean island.
"I want to make it clear that we wait for the French authorities if they want to ask for something from us, particularly regarding our location and our facilities," Kasoulides said at a news conference in Nicosia with his British counterpart Philip Hammond.
"We'll be very glad to provide them with this solidarity and assistance," he added with giving any further details.
Cyprus has a military air base at Paphos on the western coast, which is made available for humanitarian missions.
"We have said from the beginning of the operations against ISIL that our air base is at the disposal of the French air force should they need to make emergency landings or whatever," Kasoulides said, using another acronym for IS.
Earlier this week, France invoked a never-before-used European Union "mutual-defence clause" to demand support and aid for its operations against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
Britain is using its RAF Akrotiri base on Cyprus -- its largest airfield outside the United Kingdom -- as a launch pad for its own air strikes against IS targets in Iraq.
© 2015 AFP