An unidentified object crashed and exploded in Northern Cyprus at the same time as Israeli jets were carrying out overnight strikes on Syria. Local authorities believe it could have been a misfired missile or a downed combat jet.

A massive explosion rocked the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on Sunday night, causing a large fire early on Monday. The blast occurred in the Tashkent area, some 20km from Nicosia, and was heard for many miles around.

Local authorities immediately started investigating the crash but ruled out that the wreckage was that of a Northern Cypriot aircraft.

As the day progressed, government officials “hinted at not something stemming from our soil.” It could have been caused by “one of the bad sides of the war in the region falling into our country,”said Mustafa Akinci, the Turkish Cypriot leader.

Kudret Ozersay, the foreign minister, was more specific with his guesses. “Initial findings indicate the object that caused the explosion was either an aircraft carrying explosives or a direct explosive [missile],” he wrote on Twitter.

Notably, local residents told Cypriot media that they had witnessed a light in the sky, followed by three loud explosions.

The incident happened shortly after Syrian air defenses were activated to repel an air raid that Damascus blamed on Israel. According to state media, at least three soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded in two consecutive attacks on the Damascus and eastern Quneitra countryside, even though the Syrian air defenses reportedly managed to intercept most of the Israeli projectiles.

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