Four of twenty-six Russian missiles crashed in rural Iran Wednesday, according to U.S. officials. The missiles were launched from warships stationed in the Caspian sea. Both Russian and Iranian officials are denying the claims.
The New York Times reports that it is unclear where the missiles may have landed in Iran, and therefore have not been able to confirm any loss of life or significant damage. Officials say that the path of the missiles would have crossed over northern Iran and Iraq, on the way to Syria.
According to satellite imagery and other technical information sources, four of the twenty-six Syria-bound missiles went astray, striking somewhere in Northern Iran.
The U.S. officials wished to remain anonymous due to discussing military intelligence. The crashes were initially reported by CNN, leading to criticisms from Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who referred to Russia’s actions toward Syria as “unprofessional”. During a news conference, Carter said that no advance notice was given about the missile launch.
Officials say that the malfunction should not have been unexpected, as it was the first operational test of the missiles during wartime. American officials have expressed surprise at the use of these missiles, as they are more commonly used in air defenses.
Russia and Syria are allies. Russia has been attacking rebel groups in the country. These groups do not have air defenses.
American officials are speculating that Russia was attempting to demonstrate its missile force to the world. A spokesperson for the Russian military operation in question denied that any missiles failed to hit their intended targets.
A few social media users have linked the rumored crashes to the explosion of an unidentified flying object that crashed into a mountainous area in Northern Iran, Wednesday.