Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea have fired three cruise missiles against rebel targets around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, the first time Russian ships in the Mediterranean have launched any strikes during their involvement in Syria.
The attacks aimed to stall the Nusra Front-led rebels from expanding deeper into the government-held western half of the city. Over the past two weeks, momentum in Aleppo have shifted in favor of the rebels, threatening to cut off supply routes into the government-held half.
Russia has responded with increased airstrikes in the area, but so far to little effect. It appears the cruise missile fire marks a further escalation as Russia attempts to both slow the arrival of rebel reinforcements from Idlib, and to prevent the rebels already there from taking more ground.
In those past two weeks, most of the territory exchanged in and around Aleppo has happened over the weekend, which likely will mean an increase in airstrikes in the area, as both sides remain stalemated over the city, once the industrial and financial capital of the country.