Northern Cyprus explosion: ‘Russian-made missile used to fend of Israeli air attack on Syria’

It is thought the missile may be part of an air defence system fired from Syria in response to an air attack by Israel. skynews
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A suspected Russian-made missile has landed in Northern Cyprus, exploding in the air above a series of villages, according to officials.

It is thought the missile may be part of an air defence system fired from Syria in response to an air attack by Israel.

Turkish Cypriot foreign minister Kudret Ozersay said early analysis suggested it could a Russian-made S-200 anti-aircraft missile after debris from the object came down on a mountainside north of the capital North Nicosia overnight.

Mr Ozersay said in a Facebook post: “The first assessment is that a Russian-made missile, part of the air defence system, which was part of the air defence system that took place last night in the face of an airstrike against Syria, completed its range and fell into our country after it missed.

“The explosion is thought to be before the impact because there were no holes in the ground. The pieces that fell to several different points prove that the missile exploded in the air before it crashed.”

If confirmed, it would be the first time the island of Cyprus has been caught up in the crossfire of the Syrian war.

Israeli airstrikes were taking place against targets in Syria around 120 miles (200km) away at the time of the blast.

Rescue services rush to tackle a fire suspected of breaking out after debris from a missile landed in Northern Cyprus
Image: Rescue services rush to tackle a fire suspected of breaking out after debris from a missile landed in Northern Cyprus

Syrian state media said Israeli warplanes fired missiles from Lebanese airspace at military positions in the central province of Homs and suburbs of the capital, killing four civilians and wounding 21.

Syrian news agency SANA said Syrian air defence forces opened fire toward the Israeli missiles.

SANA said the dead included a baby and children were among the wounded but Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 15 people were killed in the airstrike, including six civilians and nine pro-government fighters.

Debris from the object that hit Northern Cyprus landed near the village of Tashkent, also known as Vouno, about 7 miles (12km) northeast of Nicosia, but there were reports that other fragments had landed in Esentepe and Gornec, nearly 18 miles (30km) from Nicosia.

Residents reported a bang that could be heard for miles around and a blast that set the hillside on fire.

Images displayed on media websites showed several blazes over a wide area.

Some debris came down in the gardens of homes, according to Northern Cyprus newspaper Kibris.

The UK has military bases in the southern part of the island, at Akrotiri and Dhekelia – the latter about 35 miles (55km) from the main blast site.

Earlier, Ersin Tatar, the prime minister of the north of the divided island, said that no one was hurt in the explosion, which occurred about 1 am local time.

Greek Cypriot analyst Andreas Pentaras also said images from the scene suggested it was a Russian-made S-200 missile.

A file picture of a Russian-made S-200 missile. Pic: Wikicommons/George Chernilevsky
Image: A file picture of a Russian-made S-200 missile. Pic: Wikicommons/George Chernilevsky
S-200s are reported to have also fallen on Jordan and Israel after being fired at Israeli warplanes during air strikes on Syria in the last few years.

Janes Defence Weekly said in 2016 Russia had confirmed it had restored Syria’s S-200 capability, with at least four batteries operational.

Northern Cyprus, which is only recognised by Turkey, is partitioned from the ethnically Greek and internationally recognised country of Cyprus.

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