The Washington Post reports: Russian missiles fired from Caspian Sea warships traveled more than 900 miles to strike targets in Syria on Wednesday as Syrian government forces opened a ground offensive into areas that include Western-backed rebel factions, officials said.
The bombardment marked the first naval salvos in Russia’s week-old military intervention, and another sharp escalation of Moscow’s firepower in Syria’s multi-faction civil war.
It also adds another layer of complexity to efforts at restarting talks between the Pentagon and Russian commanders on their separate military operations in Syria.
A map from Russia’s Defense Ministry showed the path of the cruise missiles crossing Iran and Iraq — which would apparently require coordination from both nations and draw them indirectly into the Russian military intervention as gateways for attacks.
Like Moscow, Iran is a key backer of Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad. Iraq’s leadership has close ties with Iran, but also depends on support from the United States and Western allies.
Such a route bypasses NATO-member Turkey, where previous violations of Turkish airspace by Russian warplanes brought stern warnings from the Western military alliance.
In Moscow, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four Russian warships carried out 26 missile strikes against 11 targets, but gave no other details.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a television meeting with Shoigu, said the missiles were fired from “the water of the Caspian Sea from 1,500 kilometers away.”
Putin added that the strikes “destroyed all the planned targets,” which he attributed to “the good preparation and the enterprises of the military-industrial complex and the good training of the personnel.” [Continue reading…]