The use of a manportable air defence system (MANPADS) to shoot down a Russian Su-25 ground attack aircraft on 6 February is further evidence that foreign actors are supporting terrorists in Syria, Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman Igor Konashenkov told journalists on 8 February.
“The thing that concerns us the most is that [Jabhat] al-Nusra terrorists have recently obtained man-portable missile systems that can be used not only in Syria and not only against military planes,” he said. “The defence ministry is working on determining what kind of man-portable missile systems these are and the channels used to supply them to terrorists.”
Jabhat al-Nusra was the name used by Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, which is now part of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which claimed responsibility for shooting down the Su-25 with a MANPADS in Idlib province, but did not show the missile being launched.
The Su-25 was the first Russian fixed-wing aircraft lost to ground fire in Syria since Moscow launched its military intervention in October 2015. Video footage appeared to show the pilot killing himself with a grenade before he could be captured by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham fighters.
Konashenkov also indicated that external assistance contributed to the attacks on Russia’s main bases in Syria in January that used swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles earlier. "The technical solutions used in those drones were previously not accessible to terrorists," he said.
“All these things confirm our concerns that terrorists from the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda have become an obedient tool in the hands of one or a group of technologically developed countries that [oppose] Russia’s key role in the liberation of Syria from [the Islamic State],” he added.
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