Russian Military Says Shot Down Drones at Air Base in Syria

Unidentified drones have been shot down near Russian Hmeimim air base in Syria, RIA news agency cited an air base spokesman

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Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, April 27, 2018Credit: Michael Klimentyev/AP

Unidentified drones have been shot down near Russian Hmeimim air base in Syria, RIA news agency cited an air base spokesman as saying on Sunday.

Interfax news agency said the base was not damaged during the incident, citing Russian military.

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In January, Russia's Defense Ministry displayed a pair of drones that it said were captured following attacks on two Russian military bases in Syria, saying the attack required know-how indicating it was carried out with outside assistance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused outside powers he wouldnt name of staging the attack to derail a deal between Russia, Turkey and Iran that is intended to reduce hostilities in Syria.

Putin said Moscow knows who helped stage the attack on the Russian bases, but he didnt identify the country allegedly involved, saying only that it wasn't Turkey.

He added that he discussed the raid with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, voicing confidence that the Turkish leadership and military had nothing to do with it.

There were provocateurs, but they werent the Turks, he said at a televised meeting with Russian newspaper editors. We know who they were and how much they paid for that provocation.

Putin said the drones looked primitive but contained high-tech elements allowing precision satellite guidance and release of munitions.

He added that those behind the attack were aiming to thwart the Russia-Turkey-Iran agreement on de-escalation zones. These were provocations aimed at thwarting earlier agreements, Putin said.

The drone raid on Russian bases came just weeks after Putin declared a victory in Syria and ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian forces from the country.

The attack occurred a few days after mortar and rocket shelling of the Hemeimeem air base. The incursions have raised doubts about the sustainability of the Assad governments recent victories and Moscows ability to protect its gains in Syria.