The Russian military says an airstrike has obliterated a terrorist munitions stockpile in Syria’s Idlib province, which contained a whole fleet of drones. The UAVs were set to attack Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base in western Syria.
Wednesday’s air raid was called after Russia learned that the drones, repeatedly used by terrorists attempting to rain down explosives on the base, had been delivered to the site en masse, the Defense Ministry said. It added that the strike had been coordinated with Turkey.
“According to information, confirmed through several channels, a large batch of unmanned aerial vehicles was delivered to the warehouse yesterday. The terrorists have been plotting to use them to attack the Russian air base in Khmeimim,” the ministry said.
It added that the now-destroyed facility belonged to the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) hardline militant group, which controls large parts of the Idlib province. HTS is a Syrian-based offshoot of Al-Qaeda and used to be known as Jabhat An-Nusra Front before the most recent “rebranding.”
The warehouse explosion was observed by locals from different locations. Several videos, purporting to show Russian warplanes over Idlib and the aftermath of the bombing run have emerged online.
Some jihadists and their sympathizers have routinely blamed Moscow for bombing “hospitals,” “residential areas.” The scale of the blast and reported secondary explosions would, however, suggest that the targeted location was packed with munitions to the brim.
The Russian Khmeimim Air Base, located in Syria’s province of Latakia has been repeatedly targeted by militant groups from Idlib. Small home-made drones, dispatched in swarms at the base, have become the weapon of choice for such attacks. While the majority of the drones were downed by the base’s air defenses, a number of vehicles were captured more or less intact as electronic warfare units managed to intercept their controls and land them. The UAVs have been brought to Moscow for study and will be later put on display.