Families reclaim remains of 15 Greek soldiers killed in Cyprus in 1974

The remains of recently identified Greek soldiers who fought in Cyprus against invading Turkish troops nearly half a century ago were returned to their families on Thursday.

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

Mr Christodoulides said it was the least the state could do to honour and pay respects to the memory of those who died.

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Soldiers carrying the coffins of Greek soldiers whose remains were recently identified, process past Ayios Panteleimonas Orthodox Church in Nicosia (Philippos Christou/AP)

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

No family members have been located for one of the soldiers, according to the state broadcaster.

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Family members watch as a soldier leads a guard of honour at the funeral service in Nicosia (Philippos Christou/AP)

The invasion resulted in Cyprus’s ethnic divide, with Turkish Cypriots later declaring independence that is 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.

Cyprus Greece Soldiers Remains
Soldiers help inter the remains of six Greek soldiers at the Tomb of Makedonitissa in Nicosia (Philippos Christou/AP)

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.

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