IDF special forces return to Cyprus for counterterrorism exercises

Soldiers from elite Maglan unit and air force aircraft train alongside Cypriot military in week-long drill

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Israeli special forces conducted counterterrorism training exercises in Cyprus this week, simulating warfare in urban and mountainous regions of the island nation, the army said.

This was the third such joint exercise by Israeli troops in Cyprus in the past two years.

The Israeli military said the drill was meant to simulate warfare against “different terror groups.” In the past, the army has acknowledged that the mountains and forests of Cyprus are similar to some of the terrain of southern Lebanon, the home of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group.

The elite Maglan reconnaissance unit led the exercise in Cyprus. Israeli Air Force helicopters and planes also took part in the drill, the army said.

Troops from the Cypriot army took part in various aspects of the exercises.

“Maglan forces along with units from the Cypriot military… simulated a variety of scenarios and capabilities in the areas of counterterrorism, urban combat, field combat, breaching, demolitions and in-battlefield medicine,” the military said in a statement.

In November 2017, Israeli special forces and aircraft took part in an exercise with local troops that lasted several days.

The Oketz canine unit and Artillery Corps’ “Sky Riders” unit, which operates small drones, took part in that exercise, alongside other special forces units.

In June, approximately 500 soldiers from the Egoz commando unit, along with representatives from a number of other special forces units, traveled to the Mediterranean island nation for a similar drill.

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