LATAKIA /Syria/, February 16. /TASS/. Russia’s Caspian Flotilla has no warships that might have fired a ballistic missile at a hospital in Syria’s Idlib, Russian Defense Minister Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.
"[Turkey’s] Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, when on a visit to Ukraine, came to alleging that Russia had made a strike from the Caspian Sea at a hospital in the province of Idlib using, I would like to draw your attention, a ballistic missile. I would like to put it straight, the Caspian Flotilla has no warships capable of firing such ballistic missiles," he stressed.
"Both reports about allegedly destroyed hospitals and schools in Azaz of February 10 and in Idlib of February 15 originated from the same source — Gaziantep.Turkey. Information about where these allegations had originated from was probably published due to negligence of its writers or a website editor."
Earlier, Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad said the hospital backed by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Syria’s Idlib province had been destroyed in US airstrikes, not by Russian warplanes. "The Russian Aerospace Forces have nothing to do with this," he said citing reconnaissance data. Russia has repeatedly stressed that it delivers its air strikes only against terrorist targets.
Russia’s Aerospace Force started delivering strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (both banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015. The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia. On October 7, Moscow also involved the Russian Navy in the military operation. Four missile ships of the Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria.
Since 2014, the US-led coalition has also been delivering air strikes against militants in Syria and Iraq.
In mid-November, after an alleged terrorist attack on Russian passenger jet that fell in Egypt killing 224 people on board, Moscow increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria by several dozen and involved strategic bombers in the strikes as well. Targets of the Russian aircraft include terrorists’ gasoline tankers and oil refineries. Russia’s aircraft have made thousands of sorties since the start of the operation in Syria, with over a hundred of them performed by long-range aircraft.
On November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber involved in Moscow’s military operation against the Islamic State (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia). Ankara claimed the warplane violated the Turkey’s airspace. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory without violating Turkey’s airspace. The Russian president referred to the attack as a “stab in Russia’s back” and promised that the move would cause response action from Russia. Moscow deployed new S-400 air defense systems in Syria in order to protect the warplanes involved in the military operation and started arming the fighters intended to provide air support to bombers and attack aircraft in Syria with air-to-air missiles.