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East Med military drills off Cyprus wrap up

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Joint naval and air exercises codenamed “Evnomia” with the participation of EU partners France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus wrap up on Friday south of the island’s coast.

Naval surface vessels, submarines and military aircraft are taking part in the manoeuvres seen as a show of strength against Turkey’s illegal energy search in the eastern Mediterranean.

French and Greek fighter jets have used the Andreas Papandreou airbase in Paphos to conduct flights and virtual target attacks both on the ground and at sea.

Six Greek F-16 took part on Thursday in the exercise in a maritime area between Crete and Cyprus. They took off from Chania, Crete.

According to sources of the Greek military, Turkish forces attempted to interfere with the six jets during their return to base but were intercepted by other aircraft and withdrew from the area.

Greece ratified an accord on maritime boundaries with Egypt on Thursday, hours after Turkey extended the operation of a seismic survey vessel in the eastern Mediterranean and said it will hold firing exercises in the region next month.

Turkey’s decision to extend the presence of its Oruc Reis survey vessel in the Greek continental shelf until September 1 is expected to prolong the tense standoff between the two NATO members.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Oruc Reis would only leave the region once it completes its mission.

A Turkish drillship has also been sent into Cyprus waters for exploratory energy drills.