BREAKING: Russia Pulls Out - Another Nation Is Attacking Syria!
Russia has pulled its military out of Syrian Kurdish areas as Turkey has begun a massive attack, invading Syrian territory to attack the Kurds.
Turkey's defense minister has confirmed the Turkish military has begun cross-border shelling of the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin in what he further describes as the "de facto start" of the operation in order to destroy - in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's words - Kurdish "terror nests" - and which has been dubbed previously by Turkey as a 'massive cross-border attack.'
Defense Minister Nuettin Canikli said Friday that Ankara "has no option" regarding the planned invasion of Northern Syria to dislodge the YPG (Kurdish "People's Protection Units") and other factions, which it considers an extension of the "terrorist" PKK. Kurdish YPG militias and their media arms began reporting sporadic shelling and clashes earlier this week.
Crucially, the Turkish state-run news agency Anadoul confirmed that Russian military personnel have started pulling out of Afrin ahead of Turkey's "expected" and imminent cross-border military operation. Russia has administered 'deconfliction' zones in the Afrin area while controlling airspace overhead, and has sponsored trilateral talks with Turkey and Iran which seeks cooperation among the three powers to wind down the war in Syria. The Russian military has long had "military advisors" on the ground in Afrin, which have in the past helped coordinate the fight against ISIS.
As we explained previously, the question of whether or not the large-scale Turkish assault on the Syrian Kurds moves forward or not depends in large part on Russia. On Thursday Turkey signaled that it had Russia cooperation in its planned invasion, though this was not confirmed by Moscow. As Reuters reported, "Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also told broadcaster CNN Turk that Turkey will coordinate with Russia and Iran on an air operation in Afrin." The Turkish build-up of forces could constitute the largest external intervening force thus far in the entirety of the Syrian war, including special forces troops, Army units, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and Turkey's air force.
However, according to many observers, the key element to a successful Turkish operation will be airpower as previously Turkish-backed forces making up "Euphrates Shield Operation" have had little success in the past dislodging Kurdish fighters without air support. On Thursday Syria said it will shoot down any Turkish jets carrying out attacks inside Syria.
But with all Russian military elements currently departing Afrin it appears that Turkey may have a green light. Indeed according to Bloomberg Turkey’s top general, Hulusi Akar, and intelligence agency chief Hakan Fidan flew to Moscow on Thursday seeking Moscow's approval for the use of Syria's airspace.
The United States has urged Turkey to exercise restraint, with State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday responding when asked about the Turkish invasion threat in the following: “We certainly don’t know that that would be the case. We would call on - certainly on the Turks to not take any actions of that sort."
Russia Claims "We Know" Who Was Behind Attack On Russian Airbase In Syria!
Russia has claimed that a "provocateur", likely referring to a state actor, was behind the drone attack on two airbases the country has in Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed those behind the massive drone attack on Russia's two Syrian bases which took place on January 6, saying in front of a large Russian media conference Thursday, "There were some provocateurs, but they were not Turks. We know who they are, who paid who for this provocation and what the actual sum was." Meanwhile the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reports that Putin has privately informed Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of which "provocateur" was behind a drone attack.
Earlier this week we reported that the Russian military in Syria thwarted the highly coordinated attack on Khmeimim air base and the Russian Naval facility in the city of Tartus, intercepting 13 heavily armed UAVs launched by terrorists. And underreported in international media was also a prior New Year's Eve attack carried out by a small squad of insurgents armed with mortars who were able to kill two Russian servicemen while damaging up to seven aircraft at Khmeimim Airbase, which constituted the single largest loss of Russian military hardware throughout the Syria campaign.
Though both attacks would appear to be merely the work of Islamist rebel factions occupying nearby Idlib, multiple extraordinary factors led the Russian Ministry of Defense to immediately state that the perpetrators must have had outside state sponsorship. First there was - as the Russian Ministry of Defense mentioned in an early media statement - "strange coincidences" surrounding the terrorist attack: these included a US spy plane spotted in the area, namely a US Navy’s Boeing P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft on patrol between the Khmeimim airbase and Tartus naval base in Syria during the time of the attack.
Secondly, the airbase lies deep within Syrian regime territory in what is among the most secure areas in all of Syria, which also underscores the need for advanced satellite and navigational coordination from a state actors. The Russian military claims the drones came from the village of Muwazarra in Idlib, around 50 miles away, which makes Ahrar Al Sham or Hay’at Tahrir Al Sham the immediate culprit. Both groups, though blacklisted as terror organizations by the Pentagon, have received direct and indirect assistance by the CIA and allied intelligence services at various points over the course of the war, especially during the 2015 campaign to wrest Idlib city from the control of the Syrian government.
Third, the Russian military in its examination of the recovered drones found high tech components well beyond what initially appeared to be rebel-made improvised devices manufactured locally. Putin went so far as to say the drones and explosives were purposefully made to appear primitive and homemade in order to conceal the advanced technology they were outfitted with. On Thursday he said, "As for these attacks, they were undoubtedly prepared well. We know when and where these unmanned vehicles were handed over [to the attackers], and how many of them there were. These aerial vehicles were disguised - I would like to stress that - as homemade. But it is obvious that some high-tech equipment was used."
Russia has yet to reveal the identity of those responsible, but has strongly hinted at the United States or a regional US ally, which elicited a Pentagon response this week with a spokesperson saying the suggestion is "without any basis in fact and is utterly irresponsible."
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Russia Forced To Defend Syrian Base Against Unusual "Massive" Attack!
Russia has allegedly defended its Syrian military bases from a massive drone attack.
Russian security forces of the Khmeimim air base and Russian Naval CSS point in the city of Tartus ,thwarted a terrorist attack “with massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) through the night of 5th – 6th January 2018,” according to the Russian Ministry of Defence. The attack came just two days after an Islamic faction operating in the area launched a barrage of mortar rounds at the airbase severely damaging two planes.
As darkness fell, Russia air defense systems detected “13 unidentified small-size air targets at a significant distance” swarming towards the bases. Ten assault drones were fast approaching the Khmeimim air base, and another three were advancing towards the naval base. All attack drones had payloads of what appears to be mortar rounds.
As the drones approached both bases, Russia unleashed the Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile and Electronic Warfare Units. Seven UAVs were destroyed by the Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile system, and another six UAVs were hacked with radio equipment. Three of the UAVs landed in a safe area just outside the base, but the others exploded on various landing attempts. The Defense Ministry notes that the defense systems eliminated all threats with no casualties or damages.
It was the “first time that terrorists massively used unmanned combat aerial vehicles of an aircraft type that were launched from a distance of more than 50 kilometers, and operated using GPS satellite navigation coordinates,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Defense Ministry said experts are analyzing the aircraft’s flight components and bomb ordnances for clues. Flight data from the GPS indicates the UAVs could have been launched at a range of 100 kilometers (62 miles). If so, this would be the first long-range drone attack by militants in the Syrian War.
Currently, the Russian military experts are analyzing the construction, technical filling and improvised explosives of the captured UAVs. Having decoded the data recorded on the UAVs, the specialists found out the 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. Technical examination of the drones showed that such attacks could have been made by terrorists at a distance of about 100 kilometers.
Further, the Defense Ministry says the extremists may have been aided by a “technologically advanced state,” as Russian specialist are now attempting to determine where the flight systems of the drones originated from.
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SEE VIDEO: Syrian Militants Shoot Down Syrian Air Force Jet!
The below Twitter video clearly shows a militant firing a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile which shoots down a Syrian Air Force L-39 "Albatross" fighter jet.
Yesterday, militants stationed in Hama, a governate in northern Syria, shot down a L-39 Albatros fighter belonging to the Syrian army, killing its pilot.
Though details about which militant group carried out the attack and the fate of the pilot remain sketchy, a video has surfaced on social media showing a militant firing what appears to be a shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft gun into the sky.
The projectile appears to strike an object, then, moments later, a plume of smoke rises from the ground in the distance. All the while, machine guns can be heard in the background.
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