Russia to launch ‘large-scale’ airstrikes on Syria as Americans vote

Russia to launch ‘large-scale’ airstrikes on Syria as Americans vote

cover-Aircraft are positioned on the flight deck of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in  the eastern Mediterranean
  • Cruise missiles and carrier-based warplanes to hit eastern Aleppo
  • Military indicates ‘hundreds of terrorist targets’ to be destroyed

Russia has threatened to launch “large-scale” cruise missile and airstrikes on Aleppo to coincide with the US election, according to media reports from Moscow.

The strikes, predicted in the 24 hours from Tuesday morning, would be targeted at the outskirts of the city where rebel groups have been seeking to break the Assad regime’s siege of opposition-held eastern districts. They would involve cruise missiles, carrier-based and land-based warplanes, the reports said.

A military source told the website: “While in previous cases, when missile attacks were launched from the Caspian Sea, there were dozens of targets destroyed, this time, in literally two to three days, hundreds of terrorist targets will be destroyed from long range.”

Over the past few days, the Russian navy has assembled a sizable fleet in the eastern Mediterranean, made up of its only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, its biggest battle cruiser, the Peter the Great – both from its Northern Fleet, and the Admiral Grigorovich, a missile frigate. There are also reported to be up to three submarines from the Northern Fleet with the Kuznetsov battle group, which are all positioned between Cyprus and the Syrian coast.

As described by military officials to the Russian media, the Aleppo attack would be a show of strength and military capability on the day of the US election. Putin observers have consistently said he puts heavy emphasis on restoring Russian status as a global power.

It would involve the first carrier-based air sorties in Russian history, the use of Kalibr cruise missiles from the Grigorovich or the submarines or both, and Russian warplanes taking off from Hmeimim airbase near Latakia.

Over the course of the election the Kremlin has made no secret of its backing for Donald Trump, and US intelligence agencies have accused Moscow of orchestrating the hacking of Democratic party emails, which were then leaked to the WikiLeaks website.

If she is elected, Hillary Clinton is generally expected to adopt a tougher stance towards Russia than the Obama administration, and Putin is widely seen as narrowing her room for manoeuvre by crippling the Syrian opposition militarily before she arrives in office.