Russia demonstrated the reach of its forces from the Caspian sea after it launched 26 cruise missiles at 11 targets in Syria, which it claimed to be ISIS-controlled. The missiles’ flight paths took a wide berth from Syria’s border with Turkey after reports of multiple incidents of Russian warplanes violating Turkey airspace over the weekend.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement in response to those incursions, reaffirming the council’s devotion to Turkey’s security. Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu issued a warning, “Turkey’s rules of engagement apply to all planes, be they Syrian, Russian or from elsewhere. Turkey’s armed forces have very clear instructions. The necessary steps will be taken against whoever violates Turkey’s borders, even if it’s a bird.”
In response to the trespassing Russian fighters, Turkey scrambled F-16s.
The cruise missile attack was confirmed by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, who made a point of stating that there were no civilian casualties. The statement may have been a jab at U.S. officials who claimed last week that Russia did not possess weapons sophisticated enough for precise attacks, even as news broke of the mistaken bombing of an Afghan hospital by U.S. forces.
A Syrian ground offensive has also begun with the help of Russian air coverage, which would be the first coordinated action between Russia and Syria following the start of Russian airstrikes last week.
Even as Western-backed rebel positions were hit with many Russian airstrikes over the past week, Russia stated that it desires to work with Western-backed rebel groups to prepare “the ground for a political settlement in Syria.”
U.S. concerns over staging concurrent air campaigns with Russian forces in Syria were confirmed after Pentagon officials revealed that at least one evasive maneuver took place when a U.S. jet came too close to a Russian aircraft.