Russian missiles fired from a ship and heading towards Islamist targets in Syria have mistakenly crashed in Iran, according to multiple reports. The cruise missiles went down in northern Iran, according to Iran's semi-official news agency. CNN quoted US officials as saying that at least four projectiles landed in Islamic Republic territory. It is not known if there were casualties.
Russian ships are positioned in the south Caspian Sea, meaning missiles must cross both Iran and Iraq to hit Syria, where Russian troops are helping embattled President Bashar al-Assad in his fight against Islamist rebels including Isis. Many Western observers are concerned the Russians also seem to be hitting Western-backed rebels.
This evening (8 October) Russia's Defence Ministry said 27 cruise missiles were launched today, hitting targets in within the Homs, Hama and Raqqa areas of Syria. These followed 26 which were launched yesterday (7 October). The Russians denied what they claimed were anonymous reports that any Kalibr-NK cruise missiles went astray, claiming all landed within nine feet of their targets.
In a Facebook posting the Russian Defence Ministry said: "we don't report quoting anonymous sources, but we show launches of our missiles and the targets they hit in real-time mode. No matter how unpleasant and unexpected it is for our colleagues in the Pentagon and Langley, our strike yesterday with precision-guided weapons at ISIS infrastructure in Syria hit its targets."
Iran has not made much comment, other than to confirm one unidentified object crashed near a village called Ghozghapan in West Azerbaijan province, which would be under the flight path of the cruise missiles. However, Iran's government-aligned Fars News Agency blamed Western "psychological operations" against Moscow for the incident. "Since Russia began its operations in Syria, Western media and officials have launched an all-out assault against Moscow," said Fars.
If it is confirmed that a Russian missile landed in Iran, this probably wouldn't strain diplomatic tensions between the two nations, who are co-operating to shore up al-Assad's regime. However, the US are furious that the Russians have launched cruise missiles for the first time, claiming they were given no prior warning and that the operation could put allied lives in danger in Syria.