A Russian-made missile exploded at night in an area dozens of kilometers (miles) from Nicosia, the capital of the divided island of Cyprus, officials of Turkish Northern Cyprus republic said on Monday, coinciding with Israel’s air strikes on Syria.
After speculation that the blast was caused by a plane crash, the internationally recognized authorities of the internationally recognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) confirmed that the cause of the blast was probably a Russian missile.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Northern Cyprus Kudret Ozersay, tweeted, “On the basis of preliminary conclusions, a Russian-made missile, launched from an air defense system activated during air strikes on Syria, landed on our country on Sunday night”.
He added that the marks found on the fragments are the same as that of an S200 missile that landed in Turkey in July 2018.
The S200 is an air defense system from a Russian industry.
“This is one of the bad consequences of the war in the region”, said Turkish Northern Cyprus leader Mustafa Akinci.
The blast didn’t cause casualties, but caused a fire, according to local media.
An AFP photographer confirmed that a fire had broken out in the area and that its effects could be seen on the charred grass at the foot of the mountain.
The journalist was unable to approach the site of the explosion, which was surrounded by authorities.
He confirmed that police, army and political officials from northern Cyprus were in the area in the morning.
The blast coincided with Israeli air strikes near Damascus, according to the official Syrian news agency SANA and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, killing 15 people, including civilians.
SANA confirmed that the Syrian air defense system, which is composed mainly of Russian systems, was activated to “counter” the Israeli bombardment.
The site of the blast is located in Cyprus, dozens of kilometers from the divided capital of Nicosia with a population of about 100,000.
The island of Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of the northern part in 1974 in response to a coup d’état to annex the island to Greece.
The island of Cyprus is about 100 kilometers from the Syrian coast and is considered a European territory.
But the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union, controls only two-thirds of the island in the south. In the north, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is recognized only by Ankara.
A UN mission monitors the Green Line dividing the capital, Nicosia, into two parts.
Israeli strikes on Syria overnight killed 15 people, including six civilians, who didn’t know whether they were killed by the bombing or by the pressure of the explosions, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday.
“Nine armed fighters were killed by Israeli strikes in the vicinity of Damascus and in the countryside of Homs (central), in addition to six civilians, including three children, near the Sahnaya area in the countryside of Damascus”, the observatory said.
It was not clear whether the deaths were caused by “Israeli shelling, rocket remnants or the enormous pressure caused by the explosions”.
The official Syrian news agency SANA earlier reported the killing of four civilians in the countryside of Damascus.
According to informed sources, the Israeli aggression against Syrian territory last night involved Israeli boats from the sea, according to the agency “Sputnik”.
The sources said: “The Syrian air defenses managed to drop missiles launched by Israeli warships from the sea before reaching the Syrian territorial waters, noting that the S200 missiles of the Syrian air defense system dropped six Israeli missiles were targeting military sites in Homs.
Several areas of Syria were attacked after midnight on Sunday by Israeli warplanes from Lebanese airspace.
A Syrian military source said: “The Syrian air defense media responded to hostile missiles launched by Israeli warplanes from Lebanese airspace towards some of our military positions in Homs and the vicinity of Damascus”, killing a number of civilians including a child and wounding others in the town of Sahnaya in the southern suburb of Damascus.