A series of mysterious attacks against the main Russian military base in Syria, including one conducted by a swarm of armed miniature drones, has exposed Russia's continued vulnerability in the country despite recent claims of victory by President Vladimir Putin.
The latest and most unusual of the incidents saw 10 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) packed with explosives descend on Khmeimim air base, Russia's vast military headquarters in northwestern Latakia province. 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.
Six days earlier, two Russian servicemen were killed in what was widely reported as a mortar attack on the Hmeimim base.More news: New trailer for cyberpunk series 'Altered Carbon' showcases Joel Kinnaman
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They say the declaration by Putin could be aimed at the domestic audience in Russian Federation, as he is bidding for another presidential run in the country's upcoming elections in March. "We have exerted so many efforts and we can not waste them".
Idlib has become a focal point of the Syrian war as government forces and allied militia have thrust towards an insurgent-held air base.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "is extremely unpopular". The coastal Hmeimim airbase is at the core of Russia's war effort in Syria.
As pro-government forces pressed the assault, the Russian defence ministry's newspaper said Moscow had asked the Turkish military to tighten control over armed groups in Idlib.
Russian Federation has been in the region since 2015 to bolster Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as he attempts to maintain power in the face of a bitterly contested civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands and left millions displaced.
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Russian Federation and Iran must fulfill their duties under a joint accord reached with Turkey previous year in which the three countries announced a "de-escalation zone" in Idlib.