Mortar attacks by Islamists kill Russian service members, damage jets


Reports on Monday claim that Islamist attacks against Russian airbases in Syria have killed servicemen and damaged aircraft.

Last week, Russian media reported that “radical Islamists” had destroyed six fighter planes and one transport aircraft in a mortar attack while wounding 10 personnel. That report, from Reuters, was later debunked by the Russian Ministry of Defense, which said that two servicemen had been killed but no planes damaged or destroyed.

But photos circulating online appear to validate the initial report, though the photos themselves are unverified.

Joseph Dempsey, a research associate for defense analysis at the International Institute of Strategic Studies posted the images and pointed out that the plane pictured had been confirmed to be in Syria, and that the rainy weather captured in the photo matched the weather at the reported time of the attack.

Experts agree that even though the damage appears to have occurred largely around a rear stabilizer, the Su-24 is probably wrecked. Other images show what appears to be a fuel leak from shrapnel.

Still, while the images and the extent of death and damages are in dispute, Moscow did confirm that an attack had taken place at its main operations base in Syria, which presents new problems for Russia. [source]

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