Russia's Defense Ministry admitted on Monday that its air and naval bases in Syria's Humeimim and Tartous came under attack over the weekend by drones carrying explosives, accusing countries with high technological potential of providing hardliners with the UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).
The Hmeimim attacks coincide with an escalation of fighting in Idlib, with a new offensive that was launched by the Syrian government, backed by Russian Federation, now underway.
Of the ones that were hijacked by Russia's military, three were landed outside of the base and subsequently examined and decoded, which helped to reveal information on its launch site.
It was the first time when terrorists applied a massed drone aircraft attack launched at a range of more than 50 km using modern GPS guidance system. The village remains loyal to the moderate opposition, but military positions surrounding it belong to the Nusra offshoot Harakat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS, said another man who lives in the village and did not want his name to be used.
After two years of Russian military support for the Assad government, Putin announced in mid-December the partial withdrawal of forces from the country, saying their task had been largely completed.
Another claim made in Syrian opposition news outlets is that an Iranian-backed militia fighting on behalf of the regime and located in the government-controlled hills nearby, was responsible.
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It triggered an uproar on Chinese social media as Tibet is an "autonomous region" firmly under Chinese control since the 1950s. China views with Tibet and Taiwan as integral to its territory and reacted furiously to the mistake.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "is extremely unpopular".
The Defence Ministry said Tuesday that the drone attacks would have required assistance from a country possessing satellite navigation technology.
He also called on Russian Federation and Iran, the two main allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, to halt their air strikes on rebel-held parts of Idlib Province near the border with Turkey.
"The days are coming when it will be more painful for the Russians especially before the election of Putin", the statement said.
The presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran met in Sochi on November 22 to discuss the impact of the Astana peace talks and any changes to the de-escalation zones across Syria.