Tuesday 20 August 2019

Missile hits Cyprus in Israel-Syria spillover

Turkish soldiers and police guard the area after the explosion. Photo: AP Photo/Petros Karadjias
Turkish soldiers and police guard the area after the explosion. Photo: AP Photo/Petros Karadjias

Michele Kambas

An errant missile struck Cyprus early yesterday, skimming the densely populated capital Nicosia and crashing on a mountainside in what authorities described as a spillover from strikes between Israel and Syria.

The explosion occurred around 1am in the region of Tashkent, also known as Vouno, some 20km north-east of Nicosia, with the impact starting a fire and heard for kilometres around.

There were no casualties. But it caused widespread concern on both sides of the ethnically split island and brought calls for warring parties to respect their neighbours' safety.

An Israeli air strike was under way against Syria at the time. Syrian state media said the Syrian air defences had fired in response.

"It is understood that a missile fired from Syria fell here by accident, as a result of being fired in an uncontrolled way by batteries... in response to the intense attacks by Israel," Kudret Ozersay, the Turkish Cypriot foreign minister, told a news conference.

"Based on our initial assessment, it is the remains of a missile which is known as S-200 in the Russian system and SA-5 in the Nato system."

In a Facebook post earlier, Mr Ozersay said the explosion was thought to have occurred before impact because there were no craters, and debris was found at several different points.

Irish Independent

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