On March 17, Russian air defense systems in the Hmeimim airbase, near the coastal city of Jableh, targeted an unidentified aerial object northwest of the airbase, over the Mediterranean sea, with at least two missiles, according to Syrian pro-government activists.
The activists said that the aerial object had been shot down and suggested that it might had been an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). However, the Ministry of Defense of Russia has not provided any information about the incident yet.
Experts believe that the Russian Pantsir-S1 short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery system was used to shoot down the aerial object.
According to media reports, the Pantsir-S1 was previously used to shot down a US-made RQ-21A Blackjack UAV near the Russian naval base in Tartus city on May 27, 2017.
Earlier, the Ministry of Defense of Russia revealed that the US has trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of al-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare. The ministry also warned that the US and its allies might use these provocations as a pretext to attack the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
It’s unknown if the US was involved in this new incident. However, the recent tensions between Russia and the US in Syria allow to suppose that Washington may use different measures, including its proxies and UAVs, to stage provocations against Moscow.