Syria crisis: Ministry of Defence confirms RAF Typhoon jets have been deployed to Cyprus

Meanwhile, Government announces that even if military action is blocked by the UN Security Council the UK 'would still be permitted under international law to take exceptional measures'

Six RAF Typhoon jets have been deployed to Cyprus to protect British sovereign bases, the Ministry of Defence confirmed today as the Prime Minister prepares to debate military action in the House of Commons later this afternoon.

The MoD said the jets are being dispatched to Akrotiri in Cyprus as a “prudent and precautionary measure”, adding that they are not being deployed to take part in a military strike against Syria.

A spokesman said: “We can confirm that as part of ongoing contingency planning, six RAF Typhoon interceptor fast jets are deploying this morning to Akrotiri in Cyprus.

“This is purely a prudent and precautionary measure to ensure the protection of UK interests and the defence of our sovereign base areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region.

“This is a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only. They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria."

The move comes as a statement released by the Government this afternoon stated that even if military action is blocked by the UN Security Council, "the UK would still be permitted under international law to take exceptional measures in order to alleviate the scale of the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe in Syria".

The Government has also provided the Commons with evidence compiled by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), which says a chemical weapons attack did occur in Damascus last week and that it is "highly likely" that Bashar Assad's regime was responsible.

The Turkish government's crisis management centre also took action today and confirmed on Twitter on that officials had designated bunkers at seven areas along the border to protect the people in the area from harm.

The deployment comes as the United Nations security council- general confirmed on Twitter that UN weapons inspectors will finish their investigations tomorrow.

Israeli citizens have been seen waiting in lengthy ques for government issued gas masks in the coastal city of Haifa, north of Israel, over fears of any military strikes in neighbouring Syria.

Israelis queue to collect gas mask kits at a distribution center in the Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa, north of Israel, on August 29, 2013.  

The Typhoons have been sent out in a defensive counter air (DCA) role, the RAF said, and are fitted with advanced medium range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM), advanced short range air-to-air missiles (ASRAAM), and a Mauser cannon for close combat.

Cyprus's sovereign base areas reportedly provide a “strategic forward mounting base” in a region important to the UK's long-term national security interests.

There are around 2,500 military and UK civilian personnel serving on the bases, along with around 3,000 family members and dependants.

Two infantry battalions serve there - one provides security to UK defence assets and the other is a high-readiness reserve force for operations.

As the RAF deploy jets, officials in Turkey say the country has now been placed on high alert against possible chemical attacks, and confirmed the government has stocked up food and gas masks for along the border.

A UN spokesman tweeted: "UNSG told reporters in Vienna that Syria UN Chemical Weapons team will finish work Friday & leave Saturday.“

Meanwhile, Russia is reportedly sending two warships to the eastern Mediterranean, Interfax news agency said today.

Interfax news agency quoted a source in the armed forces' general staff as saying a missile cruiser and an anti-submarine ship would arrive in the coming days because of the “well-known situation”.

The navy later denied the deployment was linked to events in Syria and said it was part of a long-planned rotation of its ships in the Mediterranean. It declined to say what kind of vessels, or how many, were on their way to the region.

The Prime Minister was last night forced to put a hold on a British military strike in Syria, after Labour leader Ed Miliband pulled back from supporting military intervention.

Mr Miliband has said the party needs "compelling evidence" of chemical warfare and said the House of Commons cannot be asked "to write a blank cheque to the PM for military action" .

He added: “I'm clear that this is a very grave decision to take military action that the House of Commons would be making and I didn't think that that decision should be made on an artificial timetable when the House of Commons wouldn't even have seen the evidence today from the UN weapons inspectors."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Government “was bending over backwards” to try to address concerns over military action, including publishing advice from the attorney general and the Joint Intelligence Committee.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “I think there is a great deal of understandable anxiety and concern and unease about what taking possibly military steps would mean for this country, for the world, for the region and so on.

Video: Nick Clegg on Syria

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower