According to Asharq al-Awsat, a Saudi newspaper, drones struck Russian airbase in Syria late Sunday. Their origin remains a mystery.
The newspaper wrote:
Intense bombs shook at Sunday’s dawn the city of Jableh in the countryside of Latakia, where sources confirmed the attacks were caused by drones that tried to drop unguided bombs on the largest military Russian airbase in Hmeimim.
The drones, apparently, managed to infiltrate the Russian defense system. People living in the coastal town of Jableh, the nearest town to the airbase, could hear a very loud explosion. It most likely emanated from the base.
No one has been able to assess the casualties. Russia has not commented on the source or the damage caused by the explosion.
This is not the first time Syrian opposition forces mount an attack against the airbase. According to Syrian opposition sources, and because Russia uses the airbase to attack indiscriminately civilian neighborhoods, there have been some 22 attacks against the airbase by drones more than likely originating from the Idlib province, and likely by the residual Islamists still operating in that area.
But this may be the first time that drones are able to avoid the Russian defense systems. In the past, any infiltration was immediately met by a barrage of missiles. Russia destroyed the drones long before they reached their target.
IS RUSSIA’S AIR DEFENSE EXPLOITABLE?
It is unclear yet if this was a one-off; or whether the Islamists firing the drones have been able to exploit a weakness in the defensive shield. Future attacks may shed some light on this question.
After Russia secured the Assad regime, it has embarked on a diplomatic course to fill the shoes of past American initiatives. The Astana Agreement, as an example, which forced Assad to deal with Idlib diplomatically, has partially succeeded in averting a disastrous outcome for the Syrian people. Russia and Turkey were the two major players to secure the Astana Agreement.
That, however, has not stopped the Assad regime from violating the terms of the agreement because the butcher of Damascus aches to go back to killing those who dared to rise against his regime of terror.