Russia Unleashes Barrage of Airstrikes in Syria, Including 1st From Submarine
MOSCOW—Russia has unleashed another barrage of airstrikes against targets in Syria, including the first combat launch of a new cruise missile from a Russian submarine in the Mediterranean Sea, the country’s defense minister said Tuesday.
The Kalibr cruise missiles launched by the Rostov-on-Don submarine successfully hit the designated targets in Raqqa, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin. The submarine was in a submerged position during the launch, he added.
Putin noted that the new cruise missile can be equipped with both conventional and nuclear warheads, adding he hopes that the latter “will never be needed.”
Shoigu said Tu-22 bombers flying from their base in Russia also took part in the latest raids, performing 60 combat sorties in the last three days.
He said the targets destroyed in the latest wave of Russian airstrikes included a munitions depot, a factory manufacturing mortar rounds and oil facilities belonging to “terrorists.”
Shoigu said the Russian military had informed Israel and the United States about the airstrikes before launching them. A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly, confirmed that Russia notified the U.S. in advance.
The U.S. official said at least 10 cruise missiles were launched from Russian surface ships in the Caspian Sea and at least one missile was fired by a Russian submarine in the eastern Mediterranean.
Russia has carried out its air campaign in Syria since Sept. 30, using warplanes at an air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia, as well as navy ships and long-range bombers flying from their bases in Russia. While Moscow said its action has been focused on the Islamic State group, the U.S. and its allies have criticized Moscow for also striking moderate rebel groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Shoigu told Putin that Syrian army forces had overtaken the area near the border with Turkey where a Turkish jet shot down a Russian warplane on Nov 24. He showed Putin the plane’s flight recorder, which he said Syrian and Russian troops had recovered from the crash site.
Putin ordered the flight recorder to be studied in the presence of foreign experts, adding that the data will show the plane’s flight path.
Moscow’s relations with Ankara have been badly strained over the downing. Turkey said it shot down the aircraft after it violated Turkey’s airspace for 17 seconds despite repeated warnings.
Russia has insisted the warplane had stayed in Syria’s airspace, and responded by deploying long-range air defense missiles at its air base in Syria and introducing a slew of economic sanctions against Turkey.
“We had treated Turkey not only
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