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.