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17 Port and Maritime Regiment deployed to Cyprus
7:26am Saturday 23rd March 2013 in News
Hundreds of Hampshire soldiers are today being deployed to Cyprus.
They will join United Nations peacekeeping forces in ther country for for six months.
Around 250 men and women from the Marchwood-based 17 Port and Maritime Regiment will be involved in the tour, carrying out patrols on foot, bikes and in vehicles – and working alongside Argentinian allies.
Tensions have risen in the country since it was plunged into a financial crisis last week.
Earlier this month they spent the weeks finalising preparations and honing their skills on the vast Nescliff Training Area in Shropshire, using replica buffer zones to recreate incidents that they may face for real in just a few weeks time.
Soldiers were put through their paces patrolling a specially re-created ‘Green Line’ through the fields and tracks, with lifelike scenarios of incidents like those recently experienced by other troops in Cyprus.
Lt Col Rob Askew, commanding officer of the regiment, said 260 soldiers will deploy, 140 of them coming from the Marchwood base.
The regiment has been asked to take on the tour having recently completed operations at the London Olympics.
They will be joined by around 40 Territorial Army reservists from Millbrooks 266 squadron.
He said: “This is a mission that is very long established and part of the UN. It’s very different to Afghanistan and Iraq so it’s vitally important that we prepare efficiently.
“This is about peacekeeping that the British have been involved with for many years.”
Last night Cyprus lawmakers approved three key bills aiming to secure a broader bailout package and stave off imminent bankruptcy.
The bills passed include a key one on restructuring banks, a second on restricting financial transactions in times of crisis, and one setting up a ''solidarity fund''.
More bills to meet the total target of 5.8 billion euros (£4.9bn) which Cyprus needs to raise to secure an international bailout will be brought for a vote over the weekend.
They include one that imposes a tax of less than 1% on all bank deposits, said deputy head of the governing DISY party Averof Neophytou.