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Cyprus rejects Hezbollah claims on Israel, airports

Cyprus rejects Hezbollah's 'groundless' claims on Israel, airports
3 min read
Cyprus' government spokesperson said Nicosia 'is not involved, nor will it become involved, in any military conflicts', following allegations by Hezbollah.
Cyprus said 'all necessary diplomatic steps will be taken' against Hezbollah's remarks [Getty/file photo]

Cyprus on Thursday rejected as "groundless" allegations by the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement that airports on the east Mediterranean island might be used by Israeli warplanes as the country's deadly war in Gaza war spreads.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in a televised address on Wednesday threatened Cyprus in the event that total war erupts in the region.

"Opening Cypriot airports and bases to the Israeli enemy to target Lebanon would mean that the Cypriot government is part of the war, and the resistance will deal with it as part of the war," he said, referring to Hezbollah.

The government in Nicosia swiftly denied any Cyprus military involvement in Israel's war against Hezbollah, occurring in the backdrop of Israel's brutal military onslaught in the Gaza Strip, which has killed 37,431 Palestinians.

"Cyprus is not involved, nor will it become involved, in any military conflicts," government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis told state radio on Thursday.

He called Nasrallah's comments "not pleasant", adding that "all necessary diplomatic steps will be taken".

The island is home to two British military bases, but these are on sovereign UK territory and not controlled by the Cyprus government.

The British Akrotiri airbase on the south coast has been used by the Royal Air Force which has joined the US Air Force in targeting Houthi rebels in Yemen who have attacked Israel-linked shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, in solidarity with Gaza.

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Over the past decade, Cyprus has built stronger ties with Israel, particularly in the search for new energy sources and in tourism.

Cyprus is the European Union's easternmost member, and is less than 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Lebanon.

President Nikos Christodoulides has denied there has been any Cypriot involvement in Israel's war in Gaza except as "part of the solution" as a staging post for humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip via a maritime corridor.

"Cyprus is not part of the problem. As it is widely acknowledged, its diplomatic footprint is part of the solution," government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis added in a separate written statement on Thursday.

"Any public allegations that refer to an involvement of Cyprus through its infrastructure or its territory in the event of a confrontation that relates to Lebanon are totally groundless," the statement said.

"Cyprus has never facilitated and will not facilitate any aggressive action or attack against any country."

On the street, reactions to the Hezbollah leader's remarks were mixed.

"It's a very tense moment all over the world," Brazilian tourist Glaussia, 54, told AFP, not giving her last name.

She added that it was important that "everybody make an effort for peace".

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Nicosia resident Costas stressed that his country's only involvement in the current conflict was to provide "humanitarian help to the people over there".

He said the government would not become involved in the war in any military capacity.

"Cyprus is a credible enabler of stability, and an acknowledged regional hub for humanitarian operations, based on excellent relations with all the countries in the region," government spokesman Letymbiotis said in his statement.