PORTSMOUTH North MP Penny Mordaunt has visited British forces in Cyprus to thank personnel directly involved in the fight against Islamic State (Isil).
The armed forces minister spent almost three days with the troops.
During her first visit to RAF Akrotiri, she met personnel from 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, who are providing the UK’s substantial contribution to coalition air operations against Isil.
Ms Mordaunt discussed the campaign and spoke to pilots who are flying daily Tornado GR4 combat and surveillance missions as the UK continues to support Iraqi ground forces.
She was briefed on the role of the resident infantry battalions and policing in the sovereign base areas at Dhekelia and Ayios Nikolaos in Cyprus.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘There are hundreds of British personnel working hard in this region to tackle the scourge that is Isil, which is why I’ve been proud to visit Akrotiri for the first time as a minister and to learn more about their contributions.
‘The men and women of Akrotiri and Britain’s other bases in Cyprus play a vital role in improving security and so it’s right that we thank them for what they do.’
The minister was given a tour of a Tornado GR4, an all-weather attack aircraft, before travelling to Nicosia to meet British troops posted to the island’s capital as part of the United Nations’ peacekeeping force.
During the visit Ms Mordaunt had the opportunity to meet soldiers from 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (2PWRR), many of whom are from the Portsmouth area.
Around 100 members of the regiment, known as the Tigers, have served, or are currently serving in Iraq.
They are helping train elements of the Kurdish Peshmerga to give them the skills to continue the fight against Isil.
Lieutenant Corporal Jack Steere, from C Company, who is from Leigh Park, was part of the training team in Iraq.
He said: ‘It was great to see the minister, and she was very interested in what we have been doing in Iraq.
‘The work we are doing there is challenging.
‘The Peshmerga is a tough fighting force, and within days of finishing our training package many of its fighters were at the front line, and I know they will be using the skills we taught them.’
She also met the Cyprus foreign minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, the Cypriot defence minister, Christoforos Fokaides, and the chief of the National Guard, Lieutenant General Georgios Basiakoulis.