A Russian warship and submarine fired four cruise missiles from the eastern Mediterranean at Islamic State targets near the Syrian city of Palmyra, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, as reported by CNN and Reuters. The strikes targeted militant ISIS "shelters" east of the ancient city, which housed heavy equipment and militant troops transferred from the Islamic State's capital of Raqqa.
The strike, which Russian press said was the first of its kind since November, was carried out by a frigate named "Admiral Essen" and submarine named "Krasnodar. The vessels fired Kalibr cruise missiles on combat vehicles and militants outside the Syrian city of Palmyra, the Defense Ministry said. The four cruise missiles were fired from the eastern Mediterranean, it noted in a statement. The submarine fired its missiles while submerged.
According to the MoD, “[the ships] targeted an area east of Palmyra, where the militants’ heavy weaponry and manpower were located. The militants moved there from Raqqa. All targets were destroyed."
"The Admiral Essen frigate and Krasnodar submarine of the Russian Navy conducted strikes by four Kalibr cruise missiles on objects of the ISIS terrorist grouping near Palmyra from the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea," the Ministry statement said. The statement said the strike "confirmed the high combat readiness of the Russian Navy forces."
Russia had warned the United States, Turkey and Israel before launching the missiles, the ministry said. It did not say when the strike took place, but Russian news agencies quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had personally told President Vladimir Putin about the military action late on Tuesday.
On May 25, a large Islamic State convoy, comprising 39 vehicles and 120 militants, was spotted outside Raqqa, a Defense Ministry source told RIA Novosti on Saturday. “The terrorist convoy of 39 pickup trucks was detected and destroyed by the Air Force on its way to Palmyra,” the source said, adding that the vehicles were equipped with large-caliber machine guns.
The Defense Ministry said it had worked with its partners in plotting the flight path to assure that the missiles traveled only over desolate areas and posed no danger to civilians.
The last time Russia fired Kalibr cruise missiles from its ships at militant targets in Syria was in November last year, the RIA news agency said. The Black Sea Fleet also carried out three cruise missile strikes on terrorist targets in Syria back in August, destroying a command post and munitions production site.
Separately, Reuters adds that photographs published on Wednesday by Turkish bloggers for their online Bosphorus Naval News project showed a Russian Syria-bound ship passing through the Bosphorus carrying a consignment of military trucks.