At least four Russian missiles reportedly crashed into Iran instead of Syria. The Russian government launched 26 rockets from the Caspian Sea on Wednesday.
Two U.S. officials relayed this information to CNN on Thursday. Thorough monitoring showed the authorities that four rockets landed in Iran. No one has confirmed casualties, but one source said “there may be” a few.
On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on television that Russia had expanded their campaign against opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, launching missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea. Shoigu told the audience that four ships have launched 26 rockets so far. He claimed the missiles destroyed “all 11 intended targets” and were not “targeted at civilian areas.” Russia needed approval from Iran and Iraq in order to launch the attack since the missiles travelled through their airspace.
It is unknown if any of these missiles belonged to Wednesday’s mission. An official told FOX News that it is the first time that ships in the Caspian Sea fired Kaliber cruise missiles. From Military Times:
It is not exactly clear if these crashes occurred during a new round of attacks today or if officials are referring to yesterday’s launch, although they say there may have been casualties associated with the wayward missiles. Yesterday, Russian officials claimed that all the missiles they fired made their way to their targets precisely, over a range of almost 1,000 miles. This is unlikely as even the highly-proven American BGM-109 Tomahawk, with over 2,000 uses, still experiences an occasional failure.
The use of cruise missiles launched from Caspian Sea against targets in Syria is questionable to say the least. Russia has has a small air force forward deployed in Syria capable of striking harder than a Kalibr cruise missile can. Since there is no anti-air threat aimed at Russia in Syria, they could simply use their fighter and attack aircraft to strike these targets instead of sending expensive missiles through two of countries to do so.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter lashed out at Russia from NATO headquarters in Brussels. He warned Russia they “would likely suffer casualties ‘within the coming days’ as it deepens its military involvement in Syria.” He also called out the Kremlin for “increasingly unprofessional behavior” when Russian jets violated Turkish airspace.
“We have not and will not agree to cooperate with Russia so long as they continue to pursue this misguided strategy,” he exclaimed. “It remains our hope that Russia will see that tethering itself to a sinking ship is a losing strategy because Russia has the opportunity to change course and do the right thing. I don’t know if they will.”