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Suspected stray Syrian anti-aircraft missile hits north Cyprus

The missile was launched as part of an air defence system during an Israeli air raid. No one was injured in the incident.

Turkish Cypriot police cordon off the area after an explosion outside of Tashkent in the Turkish Cypriot breakaway north part of Cyprus.
Turkish Cypriot police cordon off the area after an explosion outside of Tashkent in the Turkish Cypriot breakaway north part of Cyprus.
Image: AP/PA Images

A SUSPECTED STRAY Russian missile exploded overnight in northern Cyprus, just outside the island’s capital, during an Israeli air raid on Syria.

The missile defence system may have been set off by Israeli air strikes that killed at least 15 people near Damascus and in Homs province late yesterday, according to a war monitor.

The charred patch of field left behind in the Tashkent region, known in Greek as Vouno, was cordoned off by authorities.

No casualties were reported, but the BBC said locals told Cypriot media they had seen a light in the sky and heard three loud explosions.

The site was just a dozen kilometres from the capital Nicosia – and just over 200 kilometres from the Syrian coast.

“According to preliminary findings, a Russian-made missile — part of an air defence system triggered during an air raid against Syria — fell on our country yesterday evening,” the territory’s foreign minister, Kudret Ozersay, said on Twitter.

Russia supports the Syrian government in the eight-year war against rebel groups, and has provided it with extensive missile defence systems.

The markings on the debris were the same as those found on an S-200 missile that fell in Turkey last year, Ozersay added.

The object is thought to have exploded before hitting the ground.

No one was injured in the blast, which sparked a large fire, according to local media.

The leader of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mustafa Akinci, said:

This is one of the bad consequences of the war in the region.

Turkey has had thousands of troops stationed in the northern third of the island since invading in 1974 in response to a Greek military junta-sponsored coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece. Turkey is the only country to recognise the TRNC and UN-sponsored efforts to reunify the island have failed.

- © AFP, 2019

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