UK & World News
RAF Scrambles Typhoons Amid Syria Tensions
Two RAF Typhoon jets were scrambled from their base in Cyprus to investigate unidentified aircraft in international airspace amid mounting tensions over Syria, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.
Reports suggest the rogue aircraft, which were spotted on radar by the British and Turkish air forces on Monday, came from Syria.
An MoD spokesman said: "Typhoon Air Defence Aircraft operated from RAF Akrotiri on Monday, 2nd September 2013, to investigate unidentified aircraft to the east of Cyprus; the aircraft were flying legally in international airspace and no intercept was required."
The Sunday Mirror quoted a military source as saying: "This is a clear sign of the tension boiling over because of Syria. Everyone is on edge.
"It is a pretty serious move to send up Typhoons - one of their roles is to intercept any possible enemy strike."
A week ago, six RAF Typhoon jets were sent to Cyprus in what the MoD called a "prudent and precautionary measure".
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the number of countries ready to take military action against Syria was now in the "double digits" after holding talks in Lithuania with EU foreign ministers.
Following the meeting on Saturday, the EU ministers issued a call for action against Syrian President Bashar al Assad's regime.
The EU did not explicitly back military action, but Mr Kerry said he was encouraged by the "very powerful statement" made by the bloc.
"There were a number of countries, in the double digits, who are prepared to take military action," he said.
"We have more countries prepared to take military action than we actually could use in the kind of military action being contemplated."
The US accuses the Assad regime of gassing to death 1,429 people, including 426 children, in an August 21 attack outside Damascus.
In his weekly address, US President Barack Obama warned of the dangers of "turning a blind eye" to chemical attacks.
"I call on members of Congress, from both parties, to come together and stand up for the kind of world we want to live in," he said on his return from a deadlocked G20 summit in St Petersburg.
Mr Obama has asked for Congress to authorise strikes on Syria. Congress reconvenes on Monday and the president is set to address the nation on Tuesday about the US response.
Mr Kerry said Mr Obama had made no decision about whether to wait for the release of a UN investigation into the alleged August attack before taking action.
Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out bringing the issue of intervention back to the Commons and he has the support of the public, according to a new poll.
The ICM survey found voters opposed MPs voting again on British involvement - even if the UN inspectors concluded chemical weapons were used, by 46% to 36%.
But almost a quarter (24%) accepted that the decision to stay out would encourage other dictators to use chemical weapons, the poll for The Sunday Telegraph showed.