A military helicopter is seen at the Russian Hmeimim military base in Latakia province, in the northwest of Syria, on February 16, 2016. (AFP)
has denied reports pertaining to the destruction of four of its attack helicopters by Daesh
in Syria, saying they are rumors being spread by agitators of the Takfiri terrorist group.
“All Russian combat helicopters currently stationed in the Syrian Arab Republic, are performing routine tasks destroying terrorists. There have been no losses among the personnel of the Russian air base there,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov in an official statement released on Tuesday.
Earlier, US intelligence company Stratfor released satellite images dated between May 14 and 17, claiming that the images proved the choppers and 20 trucks were destroyed during an attack on the T4 air base in Syria’s Homs province.
“An entire combat helicopter unit was wiped out — four helicopters in total — as well as some damage to some of the Syrian planes on the airport, and also very notably a logistic depot, likely one that was being used to supply those specific combat helicopters,” the state-run BBC reported a Stratfor military analyst, Sim Tack, as saying.
Konashenkov emphasized that the “authorship of rumors about the destruction of Russian combat helicopters and trucks belongs to Daesh agitators, who unsuccessfully tried to sell this alleged news
some 10 days ago.”
Around the dates attributed to the images, Daesh released an image purportedly showing a member launching a rocket towards the base. (seen below)
Konashenkov noted that the visible destruction seen in the satellite pictures 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.”
Syria has been gripped by militancy since March 2011. Damascus says Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are funding and arming anti-Syria terrorist groups, including Daesh terrorists.
Russian servicemen prepare a Russian Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jet before departure on a mission at the Russian Hmeymim military base in Latakia province, in the northwest of Syria, on December 16, 2015. (AFP)
Russia launched its air campaign against Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria last September upon a request by the Damascus government. Later in mid-March, the bulk of Russian military forces were withdrawn from Syria. However some forces remain at several air and naval bases to help maintain a Moscow-Washington brokered ceasefire.
UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which has also displaced over half of the Arab country’s pre-war population of about 23 million.