Russian troops in Syria fight off 'swarm' of rebel drones

The Syrian Regime Dropped no less than 6,243 Barrel Bombs on Syria in 2017

"In this regard, I have decided that a significant part of the Russian military contingent in the Syrian Arab Republic is returning home to Russia".

Another seven drones were "eliminated" by Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missiles fired by the Russians, with the bases reporting no casualties or damage, the statement explains.

The Russian Ministry of Defence said on Monday its military was able to capture three of the "small-sized air targets of unknown identity".

A Russian journalist posted photographs of damage that suggested at least some planes had been hit.

It was reportedly the single largest loss of Russian military equipment since Vladimir Putin ordered Russian forces into Syria in September 2015.

Russia is also angered by attacks on the Russian naval base of Tartus and its air base at Hmeimim in Syria last week by drones which Moscow says were sent from Idlib province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the air strikes targeted Syrian army and Hezbollah weapon depots. The legislator said all of them were combat aircraft. "So they are damned to a consensus", Malashenko, one of the leading Russian experts on the Middle East, told AFP.

But Russia also fears that "hooligans" could use drones to cause disruption, said Melikov.

The increased military intervention by Russian Federation against the Syrian rebel groups contradicted the country's previous announcement that it would withdraw from Syria, some experts charge.

Asked whether the announcement of a partial withdrawal could have been premature, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on January 9 that the Russian forces in Syria have "all the necessary means" to counter any challenge.

"The gains the regime has made are not secure and are at high risk of being temporary", she added.

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Perhaps the biggest question of all, however, is who was responsible.

The Defence Ministry said Tuesday that the drone attacks would have required assistance from a country possessing satellite navigation technology.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said the allegation was "absolutely false".

The Russian and the USA militaries have maintained regular contacts to avoid conflict between their forces in Syria. The attacks have been mostly ignored by the Western medial.

Most of the Islamic State drones used against U.S. allies, moreover, had a range of no more than 1-2km, according to an analysis by the defense consultancy IHS Markit group. "Terrorists for the first time massively used unmanned aerial aircraft, launched from a range of more than 50 km with the use of modern guidance technology on the satellite Global Positioning System coordinates", reported the Russian Defense Ministry.

Ankara summons the ambassadors of Russian Federation and Iran to complain about what it said was Syrian regime forces' violation of the borders of the Idlib de-escalation zone.

The drones, according to data from the captured drones showed that it was launched from the rebel-controlled Idlib area.

"These people have no aid, no one to help them", he said.

Among the theories circulating widely is that disgruntled Alawites from Assad's own minority sect were responsible.

An operational room of opposition groups fighting in the area denied that regime forces had broken the siege.

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