Russia Says It Blew Up Terrorists Behind Syria Drone Attacks With Laser Guided Artillery

The latest Russian Ministry of Defense statement still did not name the group the Kremlin believes was responsible for the attacks, but did say they were the same militants who had killed two Russian personnel at Khmeimim air base in a separate attack on Dec. 31, 2017. A previously unknown group, the Free Alawites Movement, has now claimed responsibility, but there has been no independent confirmation and it’s not clear if that group is actually active in Syria. Alawites are a sect of Shia Islam found predominantly in Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey, who have generally been supportive of Assad, who is himself a member of the group.

On Jan. 11, 2018, during a meeting with editors of Russian state and private national news agencies, Putin said that Russia knew who the attackers were, where they were broadly, and how much they had “paid for these provocations,” but did not reveal their identities or affiliations, according to RT. The Russian president said the attack had been a deliberate attempt to drive a wedge between his country and its partners in Syria, including Iran and Turkey.

“There were provocateurs there, but they were not Turks,” Putin said, appearing to dismiss earlier Russian allegations that Turkish-backed rebels were behind the incident. “We know when and where those unmanned aerial vehicles were handed over and how many there were.”

Russia, Turkey, and Iran are all part of a coalition in charge of managing various so-called “de-escalation zones” in Syria. Turkey is in charge of those activities in Idlib and Russia had initially criticized them for failing to properly implement the ceasefire.

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