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The New Arab & agencies

Iran refuses to comment whether hit by Russia missiles

Moscow launched an air war in Syria at the end of last month [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 October, 2015

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Iran on Friday refused to confirm or deny a claim by a US official that Russian missiles targeting rebels in Syria crashed in its territory this week.

Iran on Friday refused to confirm or deny a claim by a US official that Russian missiles targeting rebels in Syria crashed in its territory this week.

"We don't confirm" this information, foreign ministry spokeswoman Afkham Marzieh said when asked about the claim.

The US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday that four Russian cruise missiles aimed at targets in Syria had crashed in Iran.

The missiles were thought to be among a salvo fired Wednesday from Russian warships in the Caspian as part of a nine-day-old air war targeting foes of President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia hit back at the claims, saying all the shots were on target, and the defence ministry posted a graphic on its website showing 26 missiles flying over Iran and Iraq before striking inside Syria.

"Any professional knows that during these operations we always fix the target before and after impact. All our cruise missiles hit their target," ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

Moscow launched an air war in Syria at the end of last month it said was aimed at the Islamic State group and other "terrorist" organisations fighting in the country's four-year-old civil war.

Russia's air force hit 27 "terrorist" targets in central and northern Syria Wednesday night, the defence ministry said, including eight IS strongholds in Homs province and 11 training camps in Hama and Raqa provinces.

Western powers have dismissed these claims as window-dressing for a campaign that primarily seeks to prop up Assad's embattled regime against a much broader group of rebels.

Washington said more than 90 percent of Russian raids have targeted groups other than IS or Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, al-Nusra Front.

Another US official said the missiles that landed in Iran were Kalibr-NK cruise missiles, which Russia had "used for the first time in a combat setting".

"They appeared to help operations by Iranian-backed Hizballah" in Syria, where the powerful Lebanese group has been fighting alongside regime forces, the official added.

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