The Russian army has said that it has ‘eliminated’ the militants behind a mortar attack on a base in Syria on New Year’s Eve that killed two Russian soldiers.
At least seven planes were also reported to have been destroyed when so-called radical Islamists attacked the airbase, it has been claimed.
It could be the single biggest loss of military hardware for Russia since it began supporting Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad in 2015.
Russia has released images showing its special forces destroying a base which it says rebels used to launch their new attack on the Hmeymim air base
The Russian defence ministry says the rebel base was located on the border of Idlib province
The New Year’s Eve mortar on Russia’s Hmeymim air base was probably the biggest setback for the Kremlin since its intervention in Syria in 2015
The planes were destroyed on New Year’s Eve when rebel shelling rained down on the Hmeymim air base, according to a Russian daily newspaper.
But now Russia says it has got is revenge.
‘The command of our troops in Syria carried out a special operation to find and eliminate the group of militants that carried out the mortar attack on the Hmeimim base (Western Syria),’ the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.
Special forces tracked the fighters to their base camp near the border of Idlib province, the statement said.
Russia says that drones used earlier this month to attack its airbase Hmeimim were high-tech and capable of precision strikes
Russian President Vladimir Putin in December announced the partial withdrawal of his forces from Syria in December
When the fighters, whose affiliation was not announced, were preparing to leave the base they were ‘destroyed by a Krasnopol guided missile,’ according to the ministry.
‘A drone assembly and storage area was also discovered’ the announcement said.
Ten drones equipped with explosives attacked Russia’s airbase in Hmeimim in the early hours of January 6, the military previously reported. There were no casualties.
Russia’s defence ministry on Thursday said that the drones used to attack two Russian military bases in Syria were so high-tech they were designed to offset jamming technology.
They were also capable of launching precision strikes and could not have been made without foreign assistance, the ministry said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Syria last month where he ordered the start of a pullout of Russian troops, saying their task in the war-torn country had been largely completed.
Three battalions of military police and officers of the Russian Center for Reconciliation would remain in Syria, as well as two Russian bases, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on a subsequent trip.