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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.

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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Health

Sleeping in on weekends may help live longer

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Sleep deprivation has been found to have numerous negative effects on a person’s health. But the new study has shown that sleeping more on the weekend might help ease health problems associated with not getting enough during the week, and even reduce the risk of an early death.

The study, published in Journal of Sleep Research by scientists from Sweden and the United States, suggested that the negative effects of a few nights of short sleep could be counteracted by staying in bed over the weekend.

The from the Stress Research Institute (SRI) at Stockholm University and the Karolinska Institute discovered that people below 65 years old who slept less than five hours on weekends had a higher risk of early death after examining medical and lifestyle data from more than 43,000 adults, following them for a period of 13 years.

For people who slept for less than five hours throughout the week but slept longer on the weekends for about nine hours, there was no increase in mortality risk. But, for people who consistently slept for less than five hours through the whole week, the mortality risk is higher.

Torbjorn Akerstedt, one of the authors of the research and a clinical neuroscience professor from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said that the findings were consistent with previous studies on the link between sleep duration and mortality.

However, those previous studies only focused on sleep during weekdays.

“The results imply that short sleep is not a risk factor for mortality if it is combined with a medium or long weekend sleep,” the researchers wrote in the study.

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