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Troops begin six-month peacekeeping mission in Cyprus

More than 150 Northern Ireland-based soldiers have been deployed on a peacekeeping mission to Cyprus.

Troops from The Royal Scots Borderers will spend six months patrolling the so-called "green line" - a buffer zone between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot forces - as part of Operation Tosca.

A contingent of around 30 reservists from 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment are also expected to join them in Nicosia.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said: "The troops have completed an intensive pre-deployment training package and now move to Cyprus for six months peacekeeping duties."

Earlier this year, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Munro, The Royal Scots Borderers' commanding officer, said soldiers, many of whom have served on the front line in Afghanistan, would have to be "diplomatic" and "flexible" on their latest tour of duty.

He said: " We don't think we will be involved in a combat operation but there is absolutely a challenge there that will require us to fully apply ourselves to that challenge.

"We need to understand intricately the diplomatic situation in Cyprus and we will need to work hard with the other UN forces there but also with the Greek Cypriots and Turks to ensure this is a successful tour.

"This is a great opportunity to get out on an operational tour and great to have a rather different experience to other theatres."

The Royal Scots Borderers, one of six battalions in The Royal Regiment of Scotland, had been based at Dreghorn Barracks in south-west Edinburgh since its formation in 2006.

But troops moved to Palace Barracks in Holywood, Co Down, last August.

Last month a device hidden inside a postal van exploded within grounds of the sprawling base, which also includes MI5's headquarters in the region.

It was previously targeted by dissident republican bombers in 2010.

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