Russian sub joins campaign against ISIS, fires cruise missiles that Putin says could be fitted with nuke warheads

An aerial view of the Russian Northern Fleet KILO class diesel-powered attack submarine.(Wikipedia)

Russia's Ministry of Defence announced on Tuesday that it launched missile strikes in Syria for the first time from a navy submarine stationed in the Mediterranean Sea.

"Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from the Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine Rostov-on-Don and successfully hit two terrorist positions in Raqqa," Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin, according to Russian-government funded RT. Raqqa is the ISIS' de-facto capital located in northern Syria.

He said the airstrikes were successfully launched by the aviation and submarine fleet, hitting oil infrastructure, ammunition depots and mine-making factory.

"We can say with absolute confidence that significant damage has been inflicted upon ammunition warehouses and a mine production plant, as well as the oil infrastructure," Shoigu said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin later said the missiles fired from the Russian submarine could be fitted with nuclear warheads.

"But I hope the situation will not come to that. "But overall, this speaks to our significant progress in terms of improving weaponry and equipment being supplied to the Russian army and navy,'' Putin said.

The Rostov-on-Don (B-237) is a diesel-electric stealth submarine, claimed to be one of the world's quietest, the Aviationist reported.

During the last three months, Russia has conducted thousands of airstrikes in Syria, destroying over 7,300 ISIS targets, Russian officials said.

In late November, Russia's warships based in the Caspian and Mediterranean seas also launched similar missiles targeting Islamic State (ISIS) positions. This is the first time that Russia has targeted ISIS in Syria from a submarine.

According to Shoigu, the Russian air force has carried out over 300 sorties hitting 600 terrorist targets in the past three days alone.

"The operation involved Tu-22 planes as well as warplanes from the Khmeimim airbase," he said, adding that all sorties were performed with the bombers escorted by SU-30 fighter jets.

Shoigu also informed Putin that the flight recorder of the Russian Su-24 that was recently shot down by Turkish F-16 jet near the Syrian-Turkish border has been found.

Putin hopes to open the box only in the presence of international experts, local state media reported.

Russia has been conducting airstrikes targeting ISIS militants and other terrorist groups in Syria since Sept. 30. The air campaign was launched after a formal request from Damascus. Russian jets have been carrying out sorties from Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia.