Russia 'confirms' attempted Syrian rebel drone attacks on Latakia and Tartous military bases

Russia 'confirms' attempted Syrian rebel drone attacks on Latakia and Tartous military bases
Russia's defence ministry says it thwarted an attempted aerial attack on its airbase in Latakia and naval port in Tartous by Syria's rebels with 13 bomb-fitted drones.
3 min read
08 January, 2018
Russia said 13 drones were used in attacks on its naval and airbases [Russia MoD]
Russia claimed on Monday to have thwarted a series of attempted drone strikes by Syrian rebels on its naval and air bases in western Syria over the weekend. 

Images shared by the ministry of defence on its Facebook page showed an unmanned aerial vehicle and small bombs attached to a wing piece.  

The ministry of defence said that 13 drones were used in a series of air raids on the targets in western Syria on Friday-Saturday night.

Ten UAVs targeted Hmeimim airbase in Latakia, while three aimed for Tartous port, Moscow claimed.

None of the drone were able to drop their bombs on their targets after Russian air defences shot down the vehicles.

"Security system of the Russian [Hmeimim] air base and Russian Naval CSS point in the city of Tartous successfully warded off a terrorist attack with massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) through the night of 5th – 6th January, 2018," the defence ministry said in a statement on Facebook.

"As evening fell, the Russia air defence forces detected 13 unidentified small-size air targets at a significant distance approaching the Russian military bases. Ten assault drones were approaching the [Hmeimim] air base, and another three - the CSS point in Tartous."

Six of the drones were intercepted by electronic warfare units who took control of the UAVs and forced them to land. Three exploded on impact with the ground, the ministry said.

Seven others were shot down by Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missiles, the ministry said.

Moscow reported that there was no damage or casualties in the planned attacks and that Tartous and Hmeimim are operating as usual.
Russia claims bombs were attached to the drones' wings [Russia ministry of defence]

Images showed one of the rudimentary drones and nine small bombs attached to one seperate wing piece.  

Russia's defence minstry said they drones were "professionally assembled" and had been launched from a distance of 100km, claiming the rebels could have received had outside help.

"Engineering decisions applied by terrorists while attacks on the Russian objects in Syria could be received from one of countries with high-technological capabilities of satellite navigation and remote dropping control," the ministry alleged, referring to the rebels as "terrorists". 

"The fact of usage of strike aircraft-type drones by terrorists is evidence that [the] militants have received technologies to carry out terrorist attacks using such UAVs in any country."

Drones have been used by Islamic State group militants to drop explosive devices on Iraqi forces.

The Syrian Obvservatory for Human Rights on the weekend said "Islamic factions" carried out the attempted attack on the Latakia airbase.

Russia has reportedly ramped up its defences at the Latakia airbase since the attack.

Opposition media had reported that the little known "Free Alawite Army" claimed responsibility for an attack on Latakia airbase on 24 December, which killed two servicemen and is believed to have damaged aircraft.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's family belong to the Alawite branch of Islam. Most Syrian Alawites live in Latakia province. 

Syrian rebels are based around the eastern Jebel Akrad mountains in the north of Latakia, and have previously launched missile and artillery attacks on Latakia city. 

Hmeimim has been the launchpad for fierce bombing on rebel areas since Russia entered the war in September 2015.