Al-Nusra terrorists on Wednesday fired 17 missiles at Russian Khmeimim airbase in Syria, all of which were either intercepted or fell short. The attack came as the Syrian Army faced a mass militant offensive in the Idlib province.
Nine missiles were intercepted by the Khmeimim’s air defense, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, while eight others hit the ground before reaching the base. The attack, carried out with the use of multiple rocket launcher systems, originated from a terrorist held area in the Idlib province.
The attack came amid a large-scale offensive against the Syrian military launched by the Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham terrorist group (formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate).
More than 500 militants, seven tanks, four APCs and 30 trucks with mounted machine guns and two explosive-laden vehicles, driven by suicide bombers, took part in the assault, on Wednesday morning. They were backed by another 200 gunmen, and hardware, attacking the government forces from the other side.
The offensive failed as the Syrian military killed 150 terrorists and destroyed three tanks, as well as 24 trucks with mounted machine guns during the heavy fighting.
Khmeimim has frequently been the subject of attempted attacks by terrorist groups, which target the base with rockets and explosive-laden drones. None of the attacks have been successful, but the Russian military warned that the advanced technology possessed by the jihadists can be used against less-protected targets in Syria and abroad.
If the situation in Syria wasn’t tense enough, the US has again accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons in the terrorist-held areas in Idlib, though admitting that it has little proof to back those claims.
But the State Department still threatened Damascus on Tuesday that “the US and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately” if their suspicions are confirmed.
The Russian military, meanwhile, warned that Tahrir ash-Sham has set up a special “chemical unit” with the aim of staging a chemical attack in Idlib and to blame the Syrian government of the crime.
This tactic has already been employed by the jihadists on several occasions during the conflict, despite Damascus’s chemical weapons stockpiles being destroyed in 2014 under international supervision.