Cruise missiles fired from Russia’s newest frigate were part of the combined Syrian, Russian push into Aleppo, a U.S. defense official confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday.
As part of a combined Russian and Syrian push into territory held by rebels opposed to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the Russian frigate Admiral Grigorovich launched at least three Kalibir NK missiles from the Eastern Mediterranean for strikes into the region, the official said.
“The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said missiles fired from Russian warships in the Mediterranean struck areas in Aleppo province and on the eastern edge of nearby Idlib,” reported The Associated Press.
The launch of the cruise missiles is a first for the frigate and a relatively new capability for the Russian Navy. The sub-sonic Kalilbirs — SS-N-30As or 3M-14T – made their combat debut last year when Russian warships launched 26 of the missiles on routes more than 900 miles long to strike targets in Syria and Iraq from the Caspian Sea.
The missiles – which Admiral Grigorovich can field eight — are similar in capabilities to the U.S. Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) launched from American guided missile destroyers and submarines.
The cruise missile attacks are combined with renewed airstrikes from land-based Russian and Syrian aircraft operating inside Syria, the official said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the strikes earlier on Tuesday and claimed aircraft from the carrier took part in the strikes.
He said, “jets from the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, had been involved in action, and missiles had been loosed from a mobile land-based missile system inside Syria,” Reuters reported.
A U.S. defense official told USNI News on Tuesday Sukhoi Su-33s from Admiral Kuznetsov did transfer to a land base but did not confirm if aircraft from the carrier were part of the strikes. On Sunday, one of the four MiG-29Ks assigned to Kuznetsov crashed in attempting to land on the carrier.
The carrier and the frigate are operating in the region along with guided missile cruiser Peter the Great and two anti-submarine warfare destroyers.