On January 6, the Russian military and the Syrian National Defense Forces (NDF) shot down several DIY armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) around Russia’s Hmeimim airbase, according to Syrian pro-government sources.
The sources said that the Russian military used several weapon systems including Panstir-S1 air defense system to shoot down the armed UAVs. The NDF assisted with heavy and light machine guns.
Some sources believe that primitive armed UAVs might were used to attack the Russian airbase on December 31. It’s interesting to note that a similar armed UAVs that were shot down around Hmeimim on January 4. However, that aircraft was not even equipped with a camera or a visible GPS antenna.
In a related development, the Russian news outlet Rusvesna.su revealed that NDF fighters shot down an armed UAV that was on its way to bomb a Russian training center near the city of Homs on January 2. The media outlet said that the target of the UAV was Russian mine experts involved in the training of Syrian soldiers. Rusvesna.su said that that the armed UAV was operated by the Ahrar al-Sham Movement.
The UAV downed in Homs shares several features with the UAVs downed near the Hmeimim airbase on January 4. The UAVs have a similar engine and a green duct tape. However, the Homs UAV had an H-tail made out of wood.
So far, there is not clear evidence of who is building and then using these primitive armed UAVs against the Russian forces in Syria. However, al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) remains the main suspect as it has enough resources and motivation for this.