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Remains of eight Greek soldiers to be repatriated from Cyprus

The remains of recently identified Greek soldiers were killed on duty in Cyprus from 1963 to 1974 have been returned to their families following their identification using DNA in some cases. Eight of the soldiers will be repatriated and buried in Greece. 

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides attended a funeral service in the capital, Nicosia, for the 15 Greek soldiers before their remains were contained in Greek flag-draped coffins.

Christodoulides said it was the least the state can do to honour and pay respect to the memory of those who died.

Some of the men were killed during bicommunal fighting in 1963-1964 and others during the Turkish invasion of 1974.

Eight of the 15 soldiers will be reinterred back in Greece. Kathimerini understands that the remains are those of second lieutenants Konstantinos Tsagkalidis, Georgios Analytis, Anastasios Kratemenos, Panagiotis Iliopoulos, Konstantinos Tsitiridis, Georgios Martzaklis and Ilias Toulis and Ioannis Iliopoulos.

Full military honours will be afforded to the remains at a ceremony that is scheduled to take place at Elefsina Air Base on Friday, before they will be taken to the soldiers’ native places for reinternment.

The families of another six opted to have their remains reinterred at a mass grave in the Cypriot capital that stands as the country’s prime monument for the war.

No family members have been located for one of the soldiers, Sarlian Charalambos of Crete.

The relatives of the other soldiers were informed about the identification of their remains by Cyprus’ Office of Humanitarian Affairs for Missing and Enclaved Persons and the General Army Staff.

Turkey invaded in July 1974, a week after supporters of union with Greece mounted a coup backed by the Greek junta then ruling the country.

The invasion resulted in Cyprus’ ethnic cleave, with Turkish Cypriots later declaring independence that’s only recognised by Turkey, which still maintains more than 35,000 troops in the breakaway north.

Of the 2,002 people who disappeared in 1974 and the preceding decade amid ethnic violence, the remains of 1,033 have been identified and returned to their families since UN-led search efforts began in earnest in 2006.

UN officials said this marks the second-best success rate in the world, after the former Yugoslavia.

A total of 769 Greek Cypriots and 200 Turkish Cypriots are still listed as missing and officials say the passage of time poses a huge challenge.

Source: AP/Kathimerini