Wooden drone swarm attacks Russian forces in Syria

Russian Ministry of Defence drones
Russia says Turkish-backed rebels sent the drones. Photo credit: Russian Ministry of Defence

Russian forces in Syria have come under attack by a swarm of apparently crudely made drones.

Self-flying aircraft made of wood and plastic attacked air and naval bases in the port city of Tartus on the night of January 5, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence.

"As evening fell, the Russia air defence forces detected 13 unidentified small-size air targets at a significant distance approaching the Russian military bases," the ministry said in a statement.

Ten descended on the air base, three on the naval base. The Russians say seven were shot down by anti-aircraft missile defences, and six were hacked into and captured intact.

Each of them carried several explosive devices under their wings, and were guided from up to 100km away by GPS.

Russian Ministry of Defence drones
A number of drones were captured before they could drop their payloads. Photo credit: Russian Ministry of Defence.
Russian Ministry of Defence drone
Bombs attached the wings of one drone. Photo credit: Russian Ministry of Defence

"Russian specialists are determining supply channels through which terrorists had received the technologies and devices, as well as examining type and origin of explosive compounds used in the IEDs," the ministry said.

Russia has accused Turkish-backed rebel forces of launching the drones from Idlib, in Syria's northwest. Russia is allied with Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, whose forces have been fighting Western-backed rebels and Islamic militants for nearly a decade.

The ministry said the "engineering decisions... could be received from [countries] with high-technological capabilities of satellite navigation and remote dropping control of professionally assembled improvised explosive devices in assigned coordinates... Until recently, terrorists did not have all this."

None of the drones managed to hit any targets.