Ahrar al-Sham claims to have shelled Russia’s Hmeimim Air Base near Latakia, Syria. A video of the cannonade was posted to Youtube on Friday.
The airbase is a major strategic asset for the Russians. It can accommodate Antonov An-124 and Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft and Su-24s, Su-25s, and Su-34s warplanes.
Earlier this week Russia added an advanced anti-aircraft system to the base and announced fighter aircraft will support bombing sorties. The Russian missile cruiser Moskva has also moved closer to the Syrian coast near Latakia.
In October a leaked German intelligence document confirmed reports that Turkey is directly assisting al-Sham, a coalition of Islamist and Salafist units that have vowed to establish a Wahhabi state under Sharia law in Syria.
The group is aligned with al-Nusra which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and receives funding from Kuwait.
“Over 200 Ahrar al-Sham terrorists have joined Al-Nusra Front in the past three days, but only 13 of them have acknowledged,” the Arabic-language Al-Watan newspaper quoted an Ahrar al-Sham source as saying in mid-October.
Al-Sham controls Bab al-Hawa, a crossing between Turkey and Syria’s jihadist-held areas. Turkey uses the border crossing to transfer weapons and money to jihadist groups.
Turkey Moves Tanks to Border
The Turkish military has moved 20 tanks to the Syrian border as tensions between Turkey and Russia continue.
“Accompanied by police and gendarmes, 20 tanks were sent by rail from Turkey’s western provinces by railway to Gaziantep in the south of the country, and then redirected to the Syrian border,” a military source told Turkey’s Anadolu agency.
Additionally Turkey has added 18 fighter jets to patrols along the border.