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Northern Cyprus says 'Russian-made missile' suspected of hitting its territory

Activist group says an air defence system may have been set off by an Israeli air strike on Syria
Fire is seen on a hillside where officials said was caused by a suspected Russian missile that exploded overnight (AFP)

The administration of Northern Cyprus has said that a Russian-made missile struck its territory on Sunday.

An official from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus - a statelet recognised internationally only by Turkey - said that the missile had struck outside the territory's capital during an Israeli air raid in Syria.

"According to preliminary findings, a Russian-made missile - part of an air defence system triggered during an air raid against Syria - fell on our country yesterday evening," the territory's foreign minister, Kudret Ozersay, wrote on Twitter.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group said a missile defence system may have been set off by Israeli air strikes that killed at least 15 people near Damascus and in Homs province late on Sunday.

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Russia supports the Syrian government in the eight-year war against rebel groups, and has provided it with extensive missile defence systems.

The markings on the debris were the same as those found on an S-200 missile that fell in Turkey last year, Ozersay added. The object is thought to have exploded before hitting the ground.

No one was injured in the blast, which sparked a large fire, according to local media.

The charred patch of field left behind in the Taskhent region, known in Greek as Vouno, was cordoned off by authorities, an AFP photographer said, adding that police, military and Turkish-Cypriot politicians were on the scene.

It was just a dozen kilometres from the capital Nicosia, where a United Nations observer force monitors part of the green line that divides the island, but more than 200 kilometres from the Syrian coast.

The leader of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mustafa Akinci, said: "This is one of the bad consequences of the war in the region."

Turkey has had thousands of troops stationed in the northern third of the island since invading in 1974 in response to a Greek military junta-sponsored coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece.

UN-sponsored efforts to reunify the island have failed.