A RUSSIAN missile has hit Cyprus in the first time the holiday island has been dragged into the ongoing war in Syria.
Cypriot officials have confirmed a mystery object which crashed on the Mediterranean island is belived to be a Russian missile.
The object hit a mountainside north of the capital Nicosia.
Turkish Cypriot foreign minister Kudret Ozersay said: “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.”
It comes after Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes in Syria as the ongoing war in the Middle East rages on.
Russia is belived to have deployed S-400 surface-to-air missile system in Syria, which can shoot down enemy planes and missiles.
The explosion occurred around 1am local time in the region of Tashkent, also known as Vouno, with the impact setting hills ablaze and heard for miles around.
Mustafa Akinci, the Turkish Cypriot leader, linked the incident to military operations in the Middle East – but added investigations are ongoing into the missile.
“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,” he said.
Cyprus is close to 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.
If verified, it would be the first time that Cyprus has been caught in the crosshairs of military operations in the Middle East despite its proximity to the region.
Officials were studying debris at the crash site, said Ozersay, the foreign minister of Northern Cyprus, a breakaway state recognised only by Turkey.
He said it was not immediately clear what caused the crash.
Ozersay added: “Initial findings indicate the object that caused the explosion was either an aircraft carrying explosives or a direct explosive (missile). The writings and signs on the debris will allow us to understand exactly what happened soon.”
A Greek Cypriot military analyst, Andreas Pentaras, said the debris suggested it was a Russian-made S-200 missile.
“An assessment from the pictures made public shows the base of its wings. It has Russian writing on it, so it suggests it is Russian made. Syria uses Russian-made missiles, so a not-so-safe assessment would be it was .. an S-200 (missile),” Pentaras, a retired army general, told Sigma TV in Cyprus.
Jamming technology could have diverted the missile, he said.
Residents told Cypriot media they saw a light in the sky then three loud explosions were heard for miles around.
Tashkent is a small village in the foothills of a mountain range rimming northern Cyprus. Authorities evacuated some homes.