A Syrian rebel shelling destroyed at least seven planes in the Russian Hmeymim air base in western Syria, the Russian daily Kommersant reported.
The loss was not acknowledged by the Russian defense ministry, which only admits to have lost two soldiers in shelling by rebels on New Year’s Eve.
If confirmed, the attack would mark the single biggest loss of military hardware for Russia since it launched airstrikes in Syria in autumn 2015
At least four Su-24 bombers, two Su-35S fighters and an An-72 transport plane, as well as an ammunition depot, were destroyed by the shelling, Kommersant said on its website, citing two “military-diplomatic” sources.
Last month, Russia began establishing a permanent presence at Hmeymim and a naval base at Tartous although President Vladimir Putin has ordered a “significant” withdrawal of his military from Syria, declaring their work largely done.