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Russian Warships Launch Missiles Against IS In Syria

October 07, 2015

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Russian warships in the Caspian Sea have launched cruise missiles at the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Syria.

Shoigu, who was speaking in Moscow on October 7 during a televised meeting with President Vladimir Putin, said 26 rockets launched from four ships stationed in the sea had traveled almost 1,500 kilometers to reach their targets in western Syria.

Shoigu added that the missiles had hit their targets.

He did not say which route they had taken to reach Syria -- if the rockets had crossed Iranian, Iraqi, or Turkish airspace.

Putin replied that it was too early to discuss the success of Russia's military operation in Syria, which began on September 30, and ordered Shoigu to pursue cooperation with the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq in the military campaign in Syria.

He added that the air strikes and missile attacks by Russia would support a ground assault by Syrian forces.

Putin's comment came hours after a wave of overnight Russian air strikes accompanied a ground offensive by Syrian government forces on at least four insurgent positions in western Syria.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on October 7 that Russian warplanes have carried out 'intense' new strikes in two Syrian provinces.

It said the air attack hit four locations in the central Hama Province and three locations in the northwestern Idlib Province.

SOHR said there were no immediate reports on casualties from the attacks, which it said were 'more intense than usual.'

The monitoring group's director, Rami Abdel Rahman, said 'for the first time the strikes were accompanied by fighting on the ground between regime forces and rebels.'

Syrian rebels, Turkey, and several Western countries have accused Russia of targeting all opposition forces -- including moderate and Islamist rebels -- and not just the Islamic State fighters that the U.S.-led coalition is targeting.

The areas in western Syria that were attacked by Russian and Syrian forces in the latest strikes are held by rebel groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but are not IS forces.

Meanwhile, Shoigu said the Russian Defense Ministry is prepared to coordinate an agreement on contacts with the Pentagon about the military campaign in Syria.

A U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes in Syria and Iraq for more than one year.

Shoigu said Moscow has 'finalized consideration' of a document submitted by the United States and said 'we are ready to coordinate this document and start working under it.'

He added that Russia had summoned foreign military attaches in Moscow and suggested they supply Moscow with any intelligence on IS positions.

'Today we are expecting a reply from our colleagues and we hope they will tell us about those targets which they have,' Shoigu said.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in televised comments on October 7 that only two of Russia's 57 air strikes in Syria have hit IS, while the rest have been against the moderate opposition forces in northwestern Syria fighting Assad.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP


Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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