Russia's defense minister said the military has launched a barrage of new air and missile strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and for the first time has launched a new cruise missile from a submarine.
Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday the Kalibr cruise missile was launched from the Rostov-on-Don submarine in the Mediterranean, successfully hitting its designated target. He said Tu-22 bombers also took part in the latest raids, performing 60 combat sorties in the last three days.
Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that Syrian forces had overtaken the area near the border with Turkey where a Turkish jet shot down a Russian warplane on November 24. He said Syrian and Russian troops had recovered the plane's flight recorder. Putin ordered it to be studied in the presence of foreign experts.
Also on Tuesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry voiced concern about the reported bombing of a Syrian army camp, without addressing a U.S. claim that Russia was responsible for the incident.
The Syrian government blamed aircraft from a U.S.-led coalition for targeting the army camp in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Sunday night, killing three Syrian soldiers and wounding 13. The U.S. denied the claim, and a senior U.S. official military said Monday that Washington was "certain" it was a Russian airstrike that hit the camp. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it has "serious concerns" about reports of the coalition strike in Deir el-Zour. It said the incident was rooted in the U.S.-led coalition's reluctance to coordinate with Damascus on its campaign against Islamic State.
The ministry also mentioned a coalition strike in Syria's province of Hasakah that reportedly involved civilian casualties. "These incidents show that the situation on the front against the IS in Syria and Iraq is exacerbating," the ministry said, referring to ISIS, adding that the Turkish military's deployment to a base near Mosul in Iraq without Iraqi government sanction has added to the tensions. "We consider such presence unacceptable," the ministry said.
Moscow's relations with Ankara have been badly strained over Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane at the Syrian border. Turkey said it shot down the plane November 24 after it violated Turkey's airspace for 17 seconds despite repeated warnings. Russia has insisted the warplane had stayed in Syria's airspace.
Russia has responded by deploying long-range air defense missiles at its air base in Syria and introducing a slew of economic sanctions against Turkey.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed Turkey's complaint about a sailor on board a Russian navy vessel who was pictured on its deck with a portable air-defense missile while the ship was cruising across the Bosporus.
Turkey denounced the incident as a provocation and summoned the Russian ambassador to protest. Zakharova responded Tuesday by saying that the Russian crew had the right to protect its vessel. She insisted that the action didn't contradict the Montreux Convention, which sets international rules for using the Turkish straits.
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