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Islamic State demolishes Russian Mi-24 attack helicopters in Syria; Russia denies

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Dozens of Russian military vehicles and attack helicopters deployed to Syria may have been pulverized in an apparent attack by Islamic State.

Satellite images appear to show extensive damage to a Syrian air base used by Russian forces following an attack by ISIS, US Intelligence Company Stratfor says.

The Russian Defense Ministry, nonetheless, has denied reports that Islamic State aggressors crushed four Russian helicopters at an air base in Syria’s Homs province.

On May 14, ISIS announced that four Russian attack helicopters and 20 supplies trucks were destroyed by fire. Around the same time, according to Stratfor, Syrian government sources reported “random explosions” in the T4 base area.

The claim was immediately denied by Russia’s Defence Ministry which said that the damage had been there for months and was due to fighting between Syrian Government forces and “militants from terror groups”.

Stratfor released satellite images dated from May 14 and May 17, implying that the damage to the T-4 base, also known as Tiyas, was caused in that time.

“The T4 air base was severely damaged by an Islamic State (IS) artillery attack. In particular, four Russian Mi-24 attack helicopters appear to have been destroyed,” Stratfor said on its website.

The images suggest four helicopters and 20 supplies trucks were destroyed by fire inside the base, which is strategically located in central Syria between war-ravaged Palmyra and Homs.

But the BBC quoted Stratfor analyst Sim Tack as saying that “this was not an accidental explosion”.

Islamic State demolishes Russian Mi-24 attack helicopters in Syria; Russia denies

It “would really be a marginal, almost non-existent chance for this to be accidental,” he added.

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Mr Tack said there was evidence of “several different sources of explosions across the airport, and it shows that the Russians took a quite a bad hit”.

The Stratfor report said that “ordnance impact points are visible” in the images and that a Syrian MiG-25 fighter jet also appeared to have been damaged.

But Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “The burnt air and auto equipment along with many craters from shell detonations have been there for several months.

“This is a result of heavy combat for this aerodrome between Syrian Government forces and militants of terrorist groups.”

Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed Syrian source confirming a “fire” at the base, though he did not specify when it had occurred.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had reported shelling of the T-4 base on May 11 after IS jihadists briefly took control of part of a route between Palmyra and Homs.

The British-based Observatory also said two days later that continued shelling had caused an explosion at a fuel depot and a fire that destroyed three helicopters.

AFP

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Over 70% of deep-sea fish of Atlantic Ocean have ingested plastic : Study

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Fragments of plastic are found throughout the world, from nearly every continent to nearly every body of water. But, researchers recently have found 73 percent of Northwest Atlantic deep-sea fish are also eating it — the highest reported frequency of plastic-eating fish in the world.

Plastic particles were found in some of the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean with almost three quarters of a sample of more than 230 deep-water fish collected by NUI Galway scientists having ingested plastic particles.

The contamination level among the fish species, located in the northwest Atlantic thousands of kilometres from land and 600m down in the ocean, is one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The NUIG scientists, as part of the study, participated in a transatlantic crossing onboard the marine institute’s Celtic Explorer vessel.

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PhD candidate and lead author Alina Wieczorek said, “Deep-water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton [microscopic animals] and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics.”

During this research cruise they took dead deep-sea fish from midwater trawls such as the spotted lanternfish, rakery beaconlamp, stout saw-palate and scaly dragonfish.

Microplastics are small plastic fragments that commonly originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items entering the ocean. Other sources may be waste water effluents carrying plastic fibres from clothing and microbeads from personal care products. Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface.

The fish ranged in size from the smallest species the Glacier Lantern at 3.5cm to the largest species, the stout saw-palate at 59cm.

Agencies

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