Ahrar al Sham claims rocket attacks on airbase where Russians are stationed

15-10-02 Ahrar al Sham launches Grad rockets at Russian airbase

Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group that fights side-by-side with Al Nusrah Front throughout Syria, claims to have launched rockets at the Hmeimim (or Hamim) airbase in the Latakia province. Russian forces are stationed there. The group made its latest claim on Twitter earlier today, following up with a photo of a rocket being launched from the back of a truck and a short video purportedly showing the operation. The photo can be seen above. The Long War Journal cannot independently verify what, if any, damage the rockets caused.

This isn’t the first time Ahrar al Sham has claimed attacks on the Russians’ airbase in Syria.

On Sept. 28, Ahrar al Sham posted a video on its website of rockets being fired at Hmeimim. A member of the group, identified only as a “commander” named “Omar,” told the press that the rockets were the first of volleys to come. “Omar” explained to Al-Souria Net (as re-reported by NOW) that Ahrar had seized the Grad rockets from Assad’s military bases. “These are your goods. They have been returned to you,” Omar said of the Grad rockets, which are of Russian origin. The Ahrar al Sham commander promised that “any spot or location where warplanes take off to [strike] civilians directly or indirectly will be targeted.”

Other jihadists have launched rockets at Hmeimim as well. For example, on Sept. 29, the predominantly Uzbek group Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ) claimed responsibility for “rocket attacks” against the “Russian infidels” stationed at the base. KTJ announced that same day that it had formally sworn allegiance to Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.

Ahrar al Sham’s video of today’s rocket launches is just 45 seconds long. The jihadist team responsible is shown at the beginning of the video. A screen shot of these Ahrar al Sham members can be seen below:

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.13.28 PM

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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8 Comments

  • James says:

    The only way I see this as being effective is if they are able to strike the occupiers runways (if not their actual aircraft). What they’d have then is basically a grounded air strike capability. This is going to become very very interesting as it develops.

    • TRM says:

      Scatter enough junk on the runway it will interrupt flying until they get the junk cleared off.

    • A poster says:

      You can patch up a runway overnight. It is a terrible target. If you want to hurt them you’d have to hit the planes.

  • mike merlo says:

    great news

  • sdf says:

    Russia had previously lost a war in the 80s against the Jihadist during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The jihadists then were supported by America and its allies.

    Now both America and Russia have common interests in the region, and the land will be divided accordingly.

  • Gary Misch says:

    The number of modern, operational aircraft in the Russian inventory is not as large as many people think. I would encourage these folks to target airframes themselves, rather than fixed infrastructure.

    • Arjuna says:

      You would “encourage”? It sounds like you think the Russians are on the wrong side. I’d frankly rather see them and Assad (and Iran and Hezb, if needed) wipe out all anti-regime opposition. These Sunni hotheads have to go. America is on the wrong side of the Sunni-Shia schism. We need to see the Saudis as the problem that they are.
      We should not confuse core American with core Israeli security interests.

  • Dennis says:

    It is surely a” Italian wedding soup” of who’s who at the
    Jihadi sweat tent. Long (20yrs )
    ago who would have dreamed of this smorgisbourg of terrorism? All at each other’s throats doing what we are trying to do ourselves, but they do better? ?? If you didn’t have a program, you couldn’t tell who the players are! But maybe we should wait just a little longer so they can exhaust the elite veterans they’ll need later.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis