Families Reclaim Remains of 15 Greek Soldiers Killed in Cyprus in 1974

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The remains of 15 Greek soldiers who fought against Turkish forces during the 1974 Cyprus invasion were returned to their families on Thursday. These soldiers were recently identified after nearly half a century.

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides attended a funeral service at Ayios Panteleimonas Orthodox Church in Nicosia. The soldiers' remains were placed in Greek flag-draped coffins. President Christodoulides emphasised that honouring and respecting these soldiers' memories is the least the state could do.

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While most families chose to reclaim their loved ones' remains, six families opted for reinterment in a mass grave in Nicosia, which serves as a major war monument. One soldier's family could not be located, according to the state broadcaster.

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The 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus followed a coup by supporters of union with Greece, backed by the then-ruling Greek junta. The invasion led to Cyprus’s enduring ethnic divide, with Turkish Cypriots declaring independence recognised only by Turkey, which still maintains over 35,000 troops in the north.

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Of the 2,002 individuals who disappeared during the 1974 conflict and the preceding decade of ethnic violence, the remains of 1,033 have been identified and returned to their families since UN-led search efforts intensified in 2006. UN officials note this is the second-highest success rate globally, following efforts in the former Yugoslavia.

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However, 769 Greek Cypriots and 200 Turkish Cypriots remain missing, and officials acknowledge that the passage of time poses significant challenges in locating and identifying the remaining missing persons.

(Source: AP)

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