Middle East

Britain to keep up Iraq surveillance flights

A man walks at the beach as a Tornado surveillance aircraft comes in to land at the British Royal Air Force Base at Akrotiri, near the southern port city of Limassol, Cyprus, on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP/Pavlos Vrionides)

NICOSIA: Britain is to keep up its surveillance flights over northern Iraq to try to stop more minority groups coming under jihadist attack, Defense Minister Michael Fallon said Saturday.

Fallon was speaking on a visit to Cyprus from which Britain has been making its aid and surveillance flights over Iraq out of its sovereign air base at Akrotiri on the south coast.

Britain dropped more than a hundred tons of tents and water to Yezidi Kurds trapped in the Sinjar mountains of northwestern Iraq earlier this month by the advancing jihadists.

"We are continuing surveillance of northern Iraq so we can have a better picture of the humanitarian needs there," Fallon said, after talks with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.

"We are flying aircraft over Iraq so we all have a better understanding of where the next threat is coming from and whether there are other minority groups that face the kind of barbaric terrorism that we have seen," he said, according to a statement released after the meeting.

Britain deployed Tornado fighter jets to Akrotiri earlier this month for its Iraq surveillance flights.

They have now been joined by the Royal Air Force's most modern surveillance aircraft, the Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint, Fallon told Sky News earlier.

Fallon held talks with commanders at Akrotiri before heading to the meeting with Anastasiades at his residence in the hill resort of Troodos.

Britain retained two sovereign base areas on Cyprus when the Mediterranean island won independence in 1960.





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