Suspected Russian-made missile explodes over northern Cyprus

The missile exploded overnight above the north of the capital Nicosia, leaving no casualties.

(CNN)A suspected Russian-made missile has exploded over northern Cyprus, in an incident which officials believe is linked to military operations in Syria.

A high-ranking northern Cypriot official told CNN that the object crashed on a mountainside near the village of Tashkent -- less than 15 (24km) miles north of the capital Nicosia -- after midnight local time on Monday. No one was hurt, the official said.
"The first assessment is that a Russian-made missile, which was part of the air defense system that was activated last night in the face of an airstrike against Syria, missed the target and completed its range and fell into our country," Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay said on Facebook on Monday.
Syrian air defenses intercepted "hostile missiles" launched by Israeli warplanes targeting military positions in Homs and the Damascus outskirts, the Syrian Defense Ministry said on Twitter on Monday.
    The Israel Defense Forces are yet to comment on the incident, per their normal policy, but Israel is known to have attacked military positions in Syria on several occasions over recent months.
    CNN has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment, but has not yet received a response.
    Russia continues to support the Syrian government in its ongoing conflict against rebel groups.
    Ozersay, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said in another Facebook post that the missile was thought to be a Russian-made S-200, similar to one that fell in Turkey last year. Due to a lack of craters on the ground, it is believed to have exploded in the air, he added.
    The official who spoke to CNN said a team of experts from the northern Cypriot and Turkish militaries were examining the object. "The government there is in touch with the countries that are involved," the official added.
    Cyprus exists as a divided territory, and only Turkey recognizes the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus -- the northern part of the island -- as legitimate.
    After the former British colony became independent in 1960, tensions began to rise between the Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority.
      In 1974, Greek soldiers launched an attempted coup against Cyprus' then-president, Makarios III. Turkey joined the attempt to overthrow the archbishop-turned-politician, eventually taking control of more than a third of the island, declaring it a separate Turkish Cypriot state.
      The division persists to this day, with a United Nations-patrolled buffer zone cutting across the island, splitting the Turkish Cypriot north from the Greek Cypriot south. Efforts to resolve the conflict have ended in failure.