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: