Britain’s military on Thursday sent fighter jets to Cyprus in what political heads have called a precautionary measure in case of international intervention in Syria and subsequent retaliation from President Bashar Assad.
Royal Air Force officials said the jets are headed to Akrotiri air base to serve as a “defensive shield” in case “rogue aircraft” from Syria attack the facility, The Telegraph reported.
“We can confirm that as part of ongoing contingency planning, six RAF Typhoon interceptor fast jets are deploying this morning to Akrotiri in Cyprus,” an air force spokesman said, as United Press International reported. “This is purely a prudent and precautionary measure to ensure the protection of [British] interests and the defense of our sovereign base areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region.”
He reiterated, “This is a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only.”
At the same time, the United States and Russia both have announced a bolstering of military presence in the Persian Gulf arena. The U.S. Navy said it was leaving an aircraft carrier in the region that was supposed to head home — boosting to two the number of carriers in the area. And a Russian naval source said it was sending submarines and ships to the Mediterranean, but added that the military move was simply “routine rotation” rather than a reaction to Syria’s conflict, UPI reported.
That explanation conflicted a bit with what Russian media reported about its deployments — that the vessels were being sent to the region to prepare for a “well-known situation,” a subtle reference to Syria.