Russia comments on US missile strike in northwest Syria

The Russian Ministry of Defense has released its first comments regarding a US-led Coalition missile strike against an Al-Qaeda gathering in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.

Speaking on Sunday, the Russian MoD announced that neither Russia nor Turkey were informed in advance by the United States military that the attack was going to take place.

This is obviously problematic given that the US is obliged to inform Russia of its Syrian air operations via the de-escalation channel set up between the two countries and that it is also obliged to tell Turkey given that America used Turkish sovereign airspace to conduct the attack.

The strike in question has effectively been confirmed as a opportunistic cruise missile attack conducted out of Turkey on Saturday by the US military.

The American operation, carried-out during daylight hours, struck a large gathering of Al-Qaeda militants, both commanders and common fighters, belonging to the Syria-based armed groups Ansar al-Tawhid (which has origins as an Islamic State affiliate) and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

Striking a rural housing area north of Idlib city, the cruise missile attack killed dozens of jihadists.

Video footage also shows that civilians (possibly family members of the militants) were present at the bombed location and that they themselves suffered dead and wounded because of the attack.

The US very rarely conducts attacks against terrorist groups in northwest Syria; however, on the odd occasion that it does (that last operation taking place in very late June, and the one before that more that two years ago), the strike is normally very effective in terms of inflicting heavy losses of jihadist ranks, indicating that the Americans have good intelligence on militant movements in the region despite almost never attacking these factions.