Cyprus

Op Tosca: Reservists Awarded Medals For UN Mission In Cyprus

The UK reservists have spent the last six months in the eastern Mediterranean acting as United Nations peacekeepers.

More than 200 reservists deployed on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cyprus have received medals for their service. 

Personnel from 7 Rifles and 5 Fusiliers have made up the battlegroup that’s been the largest deployment of British Army reservists in the world.

For the last six months, they have been helping to keep the peace as part of Operation Tosca, patrolling the buffer zone in Nicosia - the world's last divided capital.

It is a vital operation as the country has remained in limbo for decades as a resolution between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots has so far failed to materialise.

Lieutenant Ben Goodwill, 2 Platoon Commander, 5 Fusiliers, 7 Rifles Battlegroup, told Forces News: "Even though it is very fair to say that Tosca is not the most kinetic of tours, it certainly brings its own more subtle challenges around how to negotiate with two opposing sides that can sometimes have very different views, and how to try and strike the balance down the middle of those two sides so that you’re not seen to be favouring one over the other."

The battlegroup will soon pass duties on to 6 Rifles, something Lieutenant Colonel James Gayner, the Commanding Officer, said will be an "event" in itself. 

The soldiers have been patrolling the buffer zone in Nicosia, the world’s last divided capital.

"We’re handing over to our sister battalion, 6 Rifles, so that’ll be an extraordinary event handing over from one Army reserve battalion handing over to another within the same regiment," he said.

"If that’s happened before it would have been, you know, a very, very long time ago. So I’m really looking forward to seeing them. 

"I think I, and probably a fair few members of the battlegroup, will in some ways be sad to be leaving Cyprus, its people and the incredible opportunities that it’s offered us."

Personnel from 6 Rifles have been undergoing training ahead of their deployment to Cyprus at the end of the month.