Terrorists have carried out an artillery strike against the Khmeimim airbase in Syria, injuring four civilians, Russia's ministry of defence has announced.
"On the 5th of August at around 2:30 pm Moscow time [11:30 am GMT], air defence equipment at the Khmeimim airbase detected the launch of three multiple launch rockets in the direction of the Russian airbase from north of the base," the MoD said in a press statement.
According to the military, the barrage did not hit the airbase, which is continuing its operations as normal.
Instead, the shells hit a nearby village. "According to Syrian security bodies, the militant shells fell on [a] nearby settlement...resulting in injuries to four local residents," the Russian military said.
Earlier, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported that terrorists had targeted the airbase, with "considerable losses in lives and material damage" caused after shells fell in the vicinity of the airbase.
Situated in Latakia province in Syria's northwest, the Khmeimim airbase has been the home base of Russian forces deployed in Syria ever since Russia began its anti-terrorist operation in the country in September 2015. The base has faced repeated attacks, with terrorist shells and makeshift drones regularly shot down by air defences before reaching the base. Other attacks have been foiled before being launched thanks to Russian airstrikes against the would-be attackers based on intelligence data. Last year, the Russian defence ministry accused a US Poseidon 8 surveillance aircraft of coordinating a drone attack on the airbase after it was revealed that the plane was operating over the Mediterranean Sea at the same time that Khmeimim airbase defences fended off an attack by 13 combat drones. The US has denied the claims, calling them "utterly irresponsible." US spy planes have been repeatedly spotted operating in the area in the months since.
Khmeimim is guarded by a multilayered joint Russian and Syrian air defence network.
Latakia borders Idlib province, the last major stronghold of terrorist militants in Syria. According to Russian military figures, militants in the Idlib de-escalation zone have killed up to 110 Syrian servicemen and 65 civilians in attacks and shelling in the territory over the past four months. On Friday, the Russian ministry of defence released a video showing precision airstrikes on jihadists in Idlib against a multiple rocket launcher mounted on a pickup truck and a self-propelled gun.