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The New Arab

Spooked Syrian regime moves attack aircraft to Russian airbase

Russia officially took over Hmeimim airbase in January [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 April, 2017

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The majority of the Syrian regime's air fleet have been moved within close to the Russian airbase in Latakia, to protect the force from possible US strikes.
Syrian regime combat aircraft have been moved to the safety of a Russian-run airbase in Latakia, following US airstrikes earlier this month on an airfield in central Syria.

The majority of the Syrian regime's air fleet was moved to the civilian Basil al-Assad airport in Latakia - which is connected to the Russian military-run Hmeimim airbase - US officials told CNN.

The move comes after US cruise missiles struck Shayrat airbase in Homs province, believed to be the launch pad for a suspected regime chemical attack on an opposition town in Idlib province, which left over 100 unsuspected civilians dead.

US President Donald Trump ordered the attack on the airbase on 6 April, which is said to have destroyed 24 Syrian combat aircraft.

The US did not rule out further strikes on Syrian regime military installations, particularly if another chemical attack was launched.

"The Syrian air force is not in good shape. It's been worn down by years of combat plus some ... significant maintenance problems," said Secretary of Defence James Mattis told reporters.

[click to enlarge]
"The Syrian regime should think long and hard before it again acts so recklessly in violation of international law against the use of chemical weapons... If they use chemical weapons, they are going to pay a very, very stiff price."

Hmeimim was taken over by the Russian military earlier this year following an agreement between Moscow and Damascus for the long-lease of the airfield.

It is connected to the civilian airport officially titled the Martyr Basil al-Assad International Airport, named after the deceased brother of Bashar al-Assad.

Parking the regime aircraft close to the Russian airbase should prevent further strikes from the US, with Washington keen not to engage directly with Moscow over Syria.




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