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”.
It “would really be a marginal, almost non-existent chance for this to be accidental,” he added.
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.
PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team
KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.
PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.
Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.