Russia has identified the village from which a swarm of drones attacked its main military base in Syria.
The revelation only somewhat cleared up the mystery surrounding what amounts to the biggest concerted attack on Hmeimim since the Russian intervention in Syria began in 2015.
The Russian Defence Ministry named the opposition-controlled village of Muwazarra in Idlib province as the origin of at least a dozen drones armed with crude explosives which attacked Hmeimim and the nearby naval base of Tartous. It released photographs of one of the aircraft.
The fixed-wing drone resembled an oversize toy aircraft assembled from plywood, said Aaron Stein of the Atlantic Council. The craft was attached to the kind of engines used to power lawn mowers and strapped with at least nine small rockets that could have been dropped or used to turn the drone into a bomb.
It represents the first time such a weapon has been used in Syria in this way. Six days earlier, two Russian servicemen were killed in what was reported as a mortar attack on Hmeimim. There are suspicions that attack also may have been carried out with drones.
Isis has used quad-type drones to drop small quantities of explosives on enemy troops in Syria and Iraq, but those devices have a range of no more than 1 to 2km. Russia claims the drones used in the new attack had a range of at least 50km.
Alexander Clarkson, a lecturer at King's College, London, tweeted: "Drone capabilities including the use of drone swarms have come too late to help divided Syrian rebel groups. But future insurgencies under more centralised leadership will use drones from the start".Washington Post