With the UK Prime Minister Theresa May having acquired the green light by her cabinet to coordinate with Presidents Trump and Macron the international action against President Assad in Syria, the RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus has become the focus of global attention.
Even though the extent of the British military involvement in a possible operation in Syria has not yet been clarified, it is thought that the British Sovereign Base in the Mediterranean island will one way or another be used in it.
In the first instance, the RAF Voyager plane that has the ability of refuelling aircraft during flights is considered as a valuable military instrument in sustaining a continuous wave of attacks against identified targets.
Then, there are the eight RAF Tornado aircraft with the powerful Storm Shadow missiles able to strike from afar and below standard radar detection range. Along with six RAF Typhoon Eurofighter jets, the Tornadoes have concluded more than 1,700 sorties from Akrotiri against ISIS positions in Iraq (mostly) and Syria since the end of 2015.
According to various reports, the base is also said to be hosting two Sentinel surveillance jets, as well as one C-17 and two C-130 military personnel carriers.
These planes, together with ten Reaper drones carrying Hellfire missiles that are based in Kuwait, two Rivet surveillance jets operating from Qatar, plus a Type 45 destroyer and a nuclear Astute or Trafalgar class submarine loaded with up to 38 Tomahawk missiles, which have a range of 1,500 kilometres, create a powerful arsenal for the UK should it decide to get actively involved in bombing the Syrian regime.
However, what was made clear following the “war” cabinet in Downing Street on Thursday is that the initiative belongs primarily to the USA and France, with the UK seeming to prefer a supportive role, at least for the initial stage of what is anyway hoped to be a short-term military engagement.
The fact that Theresa May chose to recall only her cabinet and not the Parliament from the Easter recess has led many to suggest that an attack in Syria would he ordered before Monday, since this is the day the House of Commons will be sitting again after the three-week break.
Whichever the case is, defence sources in London say that the RAF Akrotiri will be prepared for every eventuality…. / IBNA