A former intelligence chief says an object that crashed in the north after midnight is mostly likely an S-200 surface-to-air missile, based on images and ongoing conflict in the region.
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General Andreas Pentaras, who previously served as chief of the Central Intelligence Service (KYP) in the Republic of Cyprus, said a missile most likely went astray and landed in Cyprus. He made the statement on local television hours after a loud explosion was heard Monday morning just after midnight, starting a fire near Vouno/Taskent on the foothills of Kyrenia mountains.
“We are lucky that it didn’t land in a built-up area, otherwise we would be mourning dozens of victims,” Pentaras said.
Turkish Cypriot police and fire fighters rushed to the scene after midnight where they contained a fire that raged for hours, with initial information being unclear and speculation running rampant on social media. There were neither reports of people injured or killed nor were there any holes in the ground, suggesting explosions took place in the air prior to impact. Some media said pieces of wreckage were also found in other areas.
The former intelligence chief said a war is taking place 'not only in our neighbourhood, but also in our home'
On the same night, according to Kathimerini Cyprus, Israeli fighter jets launched an attack against Syrian assets near Damascus and Homs.
Syrian state media reported that the country’s air defence forces thwarted missile attacks targeting the outskirts of the capital city and the western town.
Pentaras says the lettering on an object that crashed in the north includes Russian characters, prompting him to believe the object in question is most likely associated with an S-200 missile that missed its target against Israeli jets. The missile normally would include a self destruct mechanism, he added.
The former intelligence chief also added a war is taking place "not only in our neighbourhood, but also in our home."
Too early to draw conclusions
The number of explosions was unclear, while at least two loud bangs were heard according to various sources, one loud boom moments after the other. Turkish Cypriot authorites were expected Monday morning to issue an updated statement over the incident.
Republic of Cyprus Defence Minister Savvas Angelides said it was too soon to draw conclusions, adding that there were contacts with the United Nations on the island but things were not fully clear. Angelides did not rule out the incident being linked to the conflict in Syria.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci reportedly said it was clear that the wreckage was a military object of Russian origin.