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Russia Says Missiles From Submarine Hit 2 IS Targets

  • VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Dec. 8, 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Dec. 8, 2015.

Russia said Tuesday that for the first time, it had struck Islamic State targets in northern Syria with missiles fired from a submarine in the Mediterranean.

In a televised meeting, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that cruise missiles targeted two positions near the extremist-controlled Syrian city of Raqqa.

"We can say with complete confidence that fairly serious damage was done to weapons stores and a factory for preparing [land] mines," Shoigu said, adding that oil infrastructure near the Turkish border was damaged as well.

Shoigu said Russian warplanes had struck more than 600 suspected IS targets in the past three days. He also reported that Russian bombers were under fighter jet escort, as Putin ordered earlier this month following Turkey's November 24 shoot-down of a Russian bomber that allegedly had veered into Turkish airspace.

Tuesday's televised meeting came as Russian media reported that Russian and Syrian special forces had cleared the last remaining wreckage of the SU-24 bomber near the Turkish border, including the jet's flight recorder.

Putin was seen instructing Shoigu that investigators should open the recorder only in the presence of international experts, "to carefully document everything."

Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria in late September in support of its longtime ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Early on, the strikes drew widespread criticism from Washington and its allies, who accused Moscow of seeking to strengthen Assad's widely discredited government at the expense of targeting Islamic State extremists. Russia denied those accusations.

The Pentagon last month noted that Russian airstrikes appeared more focused on Islamic State targets, after the extremist group had been definitively linked to the bombing of a Russian jetliner in late October. All 224 people on board were killed in the midair explosion over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

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