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Russia-made missile strikes Turkish Northern Cyprus from Syria

The explosion was heard for miles around and resulted in the evacuation of homes up to 200 metres from the site. No injuries were reported.

A stray missile fired from Syria exploded in Northern Cyprus early this morning, Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay has reported. The missile landed near the village of Tashkent, also known as Vouno, in the Turkish Republic. The explosion was heard for miles around and resulted in the evacuation of homes up to 200 metres from the site. No injuries were reported.

According to Özersay, who also serves as the Deputy Prime Minister in Northern Cyprus, initial investigations show that the missile came from the Russian-made S-200 air defence missile system used by the Syrian military. "It is thought that the explosion occurred before impact," he added on Facebook, "as no pits were opened on the ground. Parts falling at several different points confirm that the missile exploded in the air before it hit [the ground]."

The President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mustafa Akıncı, linked the incident to the ongoing conflict in Syria and the military operations being undertaken by the various players involved. "It is evident that it is not something stemming from our soil," he said. "It is one of the bad sides of the war in the region falling into our country."

READ: Turkey to establish naval and air bases in Northern Cyprus

The missile was allegedly fired in response to Israeli air strikes against Syrian military positions in Homs and the outskirts of Damascus outskirts last night and early this morning, which killed four civilians and wounded 21 others.

Although it is thought to have been a stray missile which hit Cyprus, there is some suspicion as to why it struck the Turkish northern part of the Mediterranean island which is around 103 kilometres from the Syrian coast at its closest point. The incident comes amid increased tension between the Syrian and Turkish armies, with Syrian forces having fired on Turkish observation posts in Syria's Idlib province on a number of occasions last month. A Turkish soldier was killed in such strikes last week.

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