UK Military Planes Making Secretive Flights To Lebanon From Cyprus

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Via The Cradle

The UK has sent over 80 military transport planes to the Lebanese capital of Beirut since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza nine months ago, Declassified UK reported on Friday.

All the flights have gone from the UK’s massive Akrotiri airbase on the nearby island of Cyprus, long a staging post for UK bombing missions in West Asia. Declassified UK notes that the number of UK military flights to Beirut has risen dramatically in recent months. The group tracked 25 flights in April and May and 14 so far in June.

Flights from the UK base take around 45 minutes to reach Beirut, which Israel has increasingly threatened to bomb in a possible full-scale war with the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah.

The Ministry of Defense declined to disclose the number of UK military flights to Lebanon since the start of the war on October 7 or their purpose. A defense source told Declassified UK that the flights “have been primarily for the purpose of facilitating senior military engagement” with the Lebanese army.

But it is widely assumed the planes are carrying weapons to Beirut to arm anti-Hezbollah militias. The US, UK, and Israel would presumably use these militias to attack Hezbollah from within the country in the case of an Israeli invasion from the south.

Declassified UK notes that nearly every Royal Air Force flight to Lebanon has been the Voyager KC mark 2, which can carry a payload of 45 tons and 291 personnel or provide air-to-air refueling. Another flight involved a vast C-17 cargo plane.

Israeli threats to invade Lebanon have accelerated in tandem with the increase in flights. Israeli military leaders have increasingly warned of a Lebanon campaign to push Hezbollah away from the border and past the Litani River.

Last week, the Israeli army approved “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon,” and the US pledged to support Israel with weapons if a full-scale war breaks out.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned of using its massive rocket and missile arsenal to hit targets across Israel in a “total war” if Tel Aviv decides to launch an invasion.

Nasrallah also threatened Cyprus, noting its role as a US, UK, and Israeli staging ground. “The Cypriot government must be warned that opening Cypriot airports and bases for the Israeli enemy to target Lebanon means that the Cypriot government has become part of the war and the resistance [Hezbollah] will deal with it as part of the war,” he said.

Nasrallah’s threat appeared to include the Akrotiri base, which lies in territory retained by the UK when Cyprus gained independence in 1960. The territory now hosts vast military and intelligence hubs for Britain and the US, Declassified UK notes.

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