On June 2, militants in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib fired a missile at a Russian reconnaissance aircraft that was on a mission over the region.
The missile missed the aircraft, which was identified by some sources as an Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) plane. At least one A-50 is deployed in Hmeimim Air Base on the Syrian coast. The plane conducts reconnaissance sorties over Greater Idlib on a daily basis.
A source in the Syrian Arab Army, who is present on one of Greater Idlib frontlines, confirmed to SouthFront that an anti-aircraft missile was launched from the region. However, the source said the target was a drone. According to him, the missile missed its target.
Some opposition activists said that the missile was fired by militants of the al-Fateh al-Mubeen Operation Room, which is led by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
Greater Idlib factions, including HTS, are known to be in possession of several man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs).
Older systems, like the Soviet-made 9K32 Strela-2, were looted from Syrian military stockpiles in the early years of the war. More advanced systems, like Chinese-made FN-6 MANPADs, were supplied by Qatar and Turkey.
The militants’ use of such systems represents a dangerous escalation and a blatant violation of the ceasefire agreement in Greater Idlib, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey on March 5 2020.
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