SCMP: Mysterious drone swarm attacks military base in Syria, exposing Russian vulnerability | Forum

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Admin Jan 10 '18
http://www.scmp.com/news/world/middle-east/article/2127577/mysterious-drone-swarm-attacks-military-base-syria-exposing




Moscow says the US supplied the technology behind the drone attack, but Washington denies involvement


A series of mysterious attacks against the main Russian military base in Syria, including one conducted by a swarm of armed miniature drones, has exposed Russia’s continued vulnerability in the country despite recent claims of victory by President Vladimir Putin.


The attacks have also spurred a flurry of questions over who may be responsible for what amounts to the biggest military challenge yet to Russia’s role in Syria, just when Moscow is seeking to wind its presence down. 


In the most recent and unusual of the attacks, a swarm of armed drones descended from an unknown location in the early hours of Saturday morning onto Russia’s vast Khmeimim airbase in northwestern Latakia province, the headquarters of Russia’s military operations in Syria.


Russia said that it shot down some of the 13 drones, used electronic countermeasures to safely bring down the others, and that no serious damage was caused.


The drone attack, however, came less than a week after two Russian servicemen were killed in a sustained mortar assault on the same base, which appears to have caused some damage to Russian military assets.


The Russian Defence Ministry denied a report in the Russian Kommersant publication that seven warplanes were put out of action in the mortar attack, including two of its premier Su-35 fighter jets and four Su-24 attack aircraft, losses that would represent the worst single day for the Russian air force in decades. A Russian journalist posted photographs of damage that suggested at least some planes had been hit.


Taken together, the drone and mortar attacks appear to represent the most concerted assault on the Russian headquarters in Syria since the military intervention in September 2015, which broadly succeeded in its goal of shoring up President Bashar al-Assad’s fight to suppress the seven-year-old rebellion against his rule. There was also a smaller drone attack on Russia’s long-standing naval base at the Mediterranean port of Tartus at the same time as the Khmeimim attack, the defence Ministry said, and a smaller mortar attack against Khmeimim was reported by Syrian media December 27.


The Khmeimim base, the heart of Russia’s military operations in Syria, is deep in Syrian-government-held territory and until now had seemed immune to attack, said Maxim Suchkov of the Russian International Affairs Council, who also writes for the publication Al-Monitor.



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