At least four ship-launched Russian cruise missiles have crashed in Iran while aiming for targets in Syria, according to reports.
U.S. officials told CNN Thursday that it is possible there were casualties from the accident. Russian warships attacking Syria are currently stationed in the Caspian Sea, so missiles heading toward Syria must pass over Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
If reports of a Russian missile incident in Iran are true, they could complicate a recent intelligence-sharing agreement signed between Russia, Iran and Iraq. The news could also lead to more direct Iranian involvement in the Syrian conflict.
In its recent assault on rebel groups in Syria, Russia is using a new precision cruise missile called the “Kaliber” for the first time.
Iran is a key backer of the Syrian regime, which Russia’s new military incursion is meant to defend. So far in the four-and-a-half-year Syrian civil war, Iranian troops have not participated overtly in the conflict, though special forces have reportedly assisted the Syrian military.
While the Russian government claims its Syrian adventure is concentrated on combating Islamic State militants, the majority of its airstrikes have focused on other rebel groups closer to regime-held territory — including rebels aligned with the U.S.
Iran does not border Syria; at their closest points, the two countries are separated by some 150 miles of Iraqi territory.
This report, by Ivan Plis, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.