"The [Russian] air forces destroyed the [terrorist] unit, which fired the MANPADs, ... at the present moment the Syrian Special Forces are working in the area. And if the elements of this MANPAD are found, then by their manufacture numbers and by origin, in the nearest future we will know where these MANPADs came from," Russian government party member Viktor Vodolatsky stated, citing his sources.
According to the lawmaker, the Russian air defense are maintaining close air-support for the offensive.
The operation takes place after the Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group, which includes Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (previously known as al-Nusra Front) terror organization, on February 3 shot down a Russian Su-25 aircraft using a handheld anti-aircraft missile while it was flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria. The pilot of the jet fighter managed to eject himself from the plane, but was killed by the militants in a subsequent fight.
The Russian side promptly responded to the attack, conducting a high-precision missile strike in an area controlled by the terrorists, killing some 30 of them.
Tahrir al-Sham has claimed responsility for the downing, releasing a post on social media quoting their commander in charge, saying that one of their militants had hit a Russian SU-25 during an "air raid" over the city of Saraqeb in the northwestern province of Idlib.