Russia says Syria drone attack launched from Turkish-controlled area

The Russian Ministry of Defence said drone attacks on Russia’s two Syrian bases at Khmeimim and Tartus on Jan. 6 were launched from a Turkish-controlled area in Syria’s Idlib province and used advanced technology.

The statement, which was published by the Ministry of Defence’s newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (“Red Star”) and cited by pro-Russian news outlet, The Duran, said the following:

It has been established that the drones were launched from the area of Muazzara in the southwestern part of the Idlib de-escalation area controlled by the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ units.

Therefore, the Russian Defense Ministry sent letters to Chief of the Turkish General Staff Chief Gen. Hulusi Akar and Chief of the National Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan.

Those documents declared the need for Ankara’s implementation of its commitment to ensure the ceasefire by the controlled armed units and step up the deployment of observation posts in the Idlib de-escalation area for the purpose of preventing similar drone attacks on any facilities.

The attacks required detailed planning and used 13 expertly-manufactured advanced drones with GPS guidance systems, the statement said. This fact made the Russians conclude that the Turkish military was allowing extremist jihadist groups in the de-escalation zones to operate undisturbed, The Duran wrote.

The outlet also reported details about a Jan. 3 mortar attack on the Khmeimim base, which killed two Russian soldiers and damaged aircraft.

Citing Russian sources, it said the attacks showed that insurgent groups were able to conduct sophisticated attacks that required intelligence support and free movement.

“The single greatest weakness of Russia’s Syrian strategy” is that “it depends for its ultimate success on the cooperation of Turkey and of Turkish President (Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan,” The Duran wrote.

It said Turkey’s interests do not always correspond with Russia’s.

Erdoğan’s hostility to Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom Russia supports; its sphere of influence in Northern Syria, where Russia has military bases; and Turkey’s former alliances with various extremist jihadist groups, including Al-Qaeda, encourages Russia to think the worst and ask Turkey some hard questions, The Duran said.