SWITZERLAND, JULY 01 – A suspected stray missile that hit the holiday island of Cyprus appears to have been made by Russia, a government minister says.
The projectile hit a mountainside north of the capital Nicosia in the early hours of Monday morning in an impact that was heard for miles around.
There was a large explosion and hills were set ablaze as the emergency services rushed to the scene at about 1am local time.
Turkish Cypriot foreign minister Kudret Ozersay said it appears it was a Russian-made missile that was fired from an air-defence system to protect against an air strike against war-torn Syria.
He said the suspected air-defence missile missed its target and fell onto the Eastern Mediterranean island, which is close to Syria.
If confirmed it would be the first time Cyprus has been caught in the crosshairs of the war in Syria.
Israeli warplanes fired missiles targeting Syrian military positions in Homs and the Damascus outskirts overnight in an attack that killed at least four civilians and wounded another 21.
Mr Ozersay tweeted: “The first assessment is that a Russian-made missile, part of the air defense system, which was part of the air defense system that took place last night in the face of an air strike against Syria, completed its range and fell into our country after it missed.”
Earlier, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said the incident was linked to military operations in the Middle East.
He said further investigations were underway by the military.
He added: “It is evident it is not something stemming from our soil.
“It is one of the bad sides of the war in the region falling into our country.
No-one was injured when the object crashed into the mountainside in the region of Tashkent, also known as Vouno, just over 10 miles north-east of Nicosia.
The island is a popular destination for British holidaymakers.
Around a million British nationals visit Cyprus every year, according to the Foreign Office.
Cyprus remains divided by the Green Line, which separates the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus from the rest of the island.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state that is only recognised by Turkey.