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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Syria: May 24, 2016

Publication: Putin in Syria
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Stratfor Verifies ISIS Destroyed 4 Russian Helicopters In Shelling On May 14 Near Palmyra

Stratfor, a US intelligence firm, has released satellite imagery that verifies claims made by ISIS earlier this month that they shelled the T4 airbase at Tiyas, west of Palmyra, destroying four Russian attack helicopters.

The claim was originally made via the Amaq Agency, a semi-official outlet for the terrorist group, on May 14.

The Amaq Twitter account has since been suspended but a cached version is still available via Google

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2016-05-24 12:34:37
There was no acknowledgement of any losses by the Russian military in the following days, while some pro-regime sources claimed that an accidental explosion had taken place at the strategically important airfield.
But the imagery released by Statfor today makes it clear that ISIS claims were accurate, showing the burned wreckage of four Mil Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunships and numerous trucks at a supply depot just north of the apron:
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Stratfor and the AllSourceAnalysis partners compared DigitalGlobe images taken on the day of the attack with those from May 17:
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Stratfor is confident that the Mi-24s at T4 were Russian:

Based on satellite imagery as well as video of the base, the Russian force consisted of approximately four Mi-24P gunships. So at least according to these open sources, no Syrian Mi-24 helicopters operated from the T4 air base in recent months. 

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Also damaged was a Syrian Arab Air Force MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor, although as Stratfor notes, the high-maintenance aircraft may well have been out of commission for some time before the attack:
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Stratfor analyst Sim Tack explained to the BBC how the pattern of damage indicated that it was a result of shelling, not any accidental blasts:

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Islamic State 'destroys Syria airbase' used by Russia - BBC News

A strategically significant Syrian airbase, used by Russia, appears to have been almost completely destroyed - according to new satellite imagery exclusively seen by the BBC. Stratfor analyst Sim Tack explains.

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May 24, 2016 11:46 (GMT)

The accuracy of both the targeting and the intelligence ISIS possessed on the hardware at T4 is striking.

The attack took place as ISIS was fighting to take control of the Shaer gas fields and cut the highway between Palmyra, which was captured by Russian and regime-allied forces in March, and Homs.

As of 12:34 GMT today, the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reports that the Russian Ministry of Defence has yet to respond to Stratfor's report.

-- Pierre Vaux

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