Reports in the Turkish Cypriot press point to a number of different scenarios, as authorities on both sides of the divided island try to learn more about the rogue missile that ended up on Cypriot soil.
According to Cyprus News Agency, experts offered their own assessments to Turkish Cypriot media regarding the missile explosion over Cyprus, Sunday night after midnight. The rocket, widely believed to be a Russian-made S200 surface-to-air missile, broke apart in the air before debris was scattered in different locations and started a fire near Vouno/Tashkent on the foothills of Kyrenia mountains.
Kibris Postasi hosted an opinion by Arda Mevlutoglu, a defense policy expert, who said the missile could have been fired by Syrian air defense against Israeli fighter jets. But Mevlutoglu added it was not clear whether a plane was an actual target. He wondered whether Syrian air defense systems might have been tricked by means of electronic warfare to think there had been an Israeli target in the area.
Another political analyst, Serdar Sement who was quoted on Turkish websites, claimed that Israel has the capability to know electronically the direction of a missile and thus fighter jets can avoid it. Sement drew on another incident, in which he saw similarities, referring to a Russian downed plane last September.
Syrian forces accidentally shot down a Russian military plane in September 2018, after an Israeli airstrike had taken place on Syrian territory, according to Russian officials who described the incident as the worst case of friendly fire in the Syrian war. Israel had expressed sorrow over the incident but blamed Syria and maintained that fighter jets were back in Israeli airspace by the time the rogue missiles were launched.
On Sunday night, Israeli fighter jets launched an attack against Syrian assets near Damascus and Homs. Syrian state media had reported that the country’s air defense forces thwarted missile attacks targeting the outskirts of the capital city and the western town.
Cyprus officials on both sides of the island are reportedly carrying out separate investigations over the incident on the island, with Greek Cypriots saying they would enlist help from friendly nations in an effort to get to the bottom of what actually happened.
A statement from the Foreign Ministry on Monday evening said all information was being evaluated, with additional reports saying the government of the Republic of Cyprus would not rely only on the assessment by the Turkish Cypriot administration in the north. Initial statements from Turkish Cypriot authorities pointed to a stray missile from Syria.
A team of Turkish experts who visited the island determined that there was “no public risk” in the aftermath of the incident. Scientific measurements were reportedly taken from a number of sites, with no traces of toxic fumes or chemicals found anywhere.