On Dec. 5, the first American, Dutch and German Patriot missiles landed in Turkey.
Within hours, three Russian warships had put into Syria’s Tartus port – the Novocherkassk and Saratov landing craft and the MB-304 supply vessel. Aboard were 300 marines. And not only fighting men. They also delivered a fearsome weapon for Assad’s army and a game changer in the Syrian conflict: 24 Iskander 9K720 (NATO codenamed SS-26 Stone) cruise missile systems, designed for theater level conflicts.
While NATO unpacked the Patriots in Turkey, a dozen mobile batteries, each carrying a pair of Iskander missiles, were fixed into position opposite Turkey, and another dozen, opposite Jordan and Israel.
At all their stations, the Russian missiles pointed at US military targets.
So while the West was gripped with alarm over Assad’s poison sarin gas shells and bombs and gearing up for missile attacks on Turkey, the Russians were injecting into the Syrian war field the most sophisticated weapon of death thus far.
The West and Israel have no answer for the Iskander’s hypersonic speed of more than 1.3 miles per second with a 280 mile-range and a 1,500-pound warhead which destroys targets with pinpoint accuracy. It is also nuclear-capable.