Russian Missile Strike on Syria from Caspian Sea
Russia’s Defense Ministry has released video of four warships based in the Caspian Sea firing a total of 26 missiles into western Syria on Wednesday. The video appears to represent a dramatic escalation of Russia’s involvement in the Middle East in its support of Bashar al-Assad against Syrian rebel groups.
The Russian warships reportedly hit 11 of its 26 targets. The strikes spanned about 1,000 miles, and are believed to be Russia’s longest-range attack ever documented.
The cruise missiles flew over the Caucasus Mountains, Iran and Iraq before veering toward Islamic State held areas in the western portion of Syria. The missile attacks required the cooperation Iran and Iraq because they had to travel through each nation’s respective airspace.
Russia says it is only targeting terrorists and that it had worked with its partners to plan the flight path so that the missiles traveled only over desolate areas and didn’t pose any danger to civilians. Despite this claim, there have been reports that some of the strikes did in fact hit areas populated with civilians.
According to reports, the offensive aims to retake areas gained by the Army of Conquest, a group of insurgents that threated the government-held coastal province of Latakia. The province is believed to be a crucial territory for the Syrian government.
Russia’s attack comes just hours after reports surfaced that a ship chartered by the Russian government to make voyages to a government-controlled port in Syria was carrying military trucks when it headed to Syria last month according to photographs taken by a Turkish blogger.
Sources said that the vessel had been carrying Russian army Ural-4320 military trucks on its main cargo deck as it passed through the Bosphorus Strait on September 6.
The Ural-4320, a workhorse for the Russian army, is used to transport weapons and troops. It can also be used as a platform for a rocket launcher.