Russian Navy Backs Major Ground Offensive Against Syrian Rebels
Four Russian warships fired 26 missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea on Wednesday, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated to Russian President Vladimir Putin on live television, destroying 11 targets from a distance of more than 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away.
“Intensive work of different intelligence services over the last two days has made it possible to detect a large number of various ISIS facilities – command posts, ammunition depots, military equipment depots, training camps of militants,” Shoigu said, according to Russian news agency TASS.
Russian airstrikes have hit some 112 ISIS targets in Syria since Moscow became involved on September 30, he claimed.
Following the airstrikes, Syria and Russia have reportedly begun a joint ground offensive into Syria as well, a Syrian official stated to the Associated Press. The joint offensive has reached Hama and Idlib.
Western officials have been on high alert over Russian activity in Syria over the past week, after an both British and American officials said the targets were U.S.-backed “moderate” rebel groups fighting ISIS – not ISIS itself.
London insists that if its target is indeed ISIS, Russia’s campaign has only had a 5% success rate.
Russian planes have veered more than once into Turkey over the past several days, putting both NATO and Turkish officials on alert as well.