Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Drones Attacked Hmeymim Base From 'Moderate' Opposition-Controlled Area

Drones Attacked Hmeymim Base From 'Moderate' Opposition-Controlled Area

Ankara is working closely on Syria with Russian Federation and Iran, President Bashar al-Assad's main allies, but has stepped up criticism of the regime's behaviour in recent days.

Recent pictures of captured Jihadist drones in Syria were released.

Russia's defence ministry said it was an "odd coincidence" that a United States navy Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft had been in the area when ten rebel drones armed with explosives swarmed over its Hmeimim airbase on Friday and Saturday.

It's unknown who launched the swarm, with the attack being unclaimed at present.

It said militants had used the province as the launchpad for a drone attack on two Russian bases in the last week.

A U.S. intelligence aircraft flew in the area between Khmeimim and Tartus during the attack on the Russian base in Khmeimim. Among the questions being asked in Moscow, he said, are whether the Russian military had adequately secured the base and whether it had failed to detect the acquisition of new technology by its adversaries. "That action wouldn't have been possible without involvement of American structures", said Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Communist Party and a member of the lower house.

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The Russian military said the drone attack was the first such coordinated assault it had experienced against its bases in Syria, with the drones flying from about 50 km away and guided by a Global Positioning System unit.

13 drones with Global Positioning System capabilities were sent after the Russian airbase at Hmeimim and the port at Tartus. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman.

Last month the YPG militia said it had fully captured Deir al-Zor's eastern countryside from Islamic State with the help of both the US -led coalition and Russian Federation. "He used chemical weapons twice against his own population, and the Russians are left as the ones backing this fairly odious regime that has become the face of barbarity to the world", Colin P. Clarke, a researcher on terrorism and insurgency at the Rand Corporation, a global policy think tank, told VOA.

The attacks also raise questions about the sustainability of Russia's gains in Syria, said Jennifer Cafarella of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.

Though the province is nominally part of a "de-escalation zone" established after negotiations between Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation previous year, there has been little respite for residents. The agreement has helped reduce fighting significantly and contributed to warmer ties between Russian Federation and Turkey.

9 that "any suggestion that US or coalition forces played a role in an attack on a Russian base is without any basis in fact and is utterly irresponsible". "Such aircraft-type aerial vehicles are available on the open market, so this attack is unique for the level of its organization, rather than for its technological level", the expert said.

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Two Russian servicemen were killed when the base was attacked on 31 December.

The business daily Kommersant reported the attack destroyed seven aircraft and caused a powerful explosion at an ammunition depot. At the time, he announced the pullout of Russian troops.

The losses brought the Russian official military death toll in Syria to 43.

The rebel groups responded to the Russian escalation with attacks on Russian targets in Syria, including Khmeimim air base.

Russian Federation has not yet commented on the reports.

The daring use of short-range mortars also pointed to the inability of Syrian forces to protect the Alawite heartland from hit-and-run raids by the rebels.

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