The Russian president also said that Turkey had nothing to do with the attack that targeted a Russian air and naval bases in Syria,

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with heads and editors of Russian mass media in Moscow, Russia, January 11, 2018.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with heads and editors of Russian mass media in Moscow, Russia, January 11, 2018. ( Reuters )

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday it is known which "provocateur" was behind a drone attack which targeted Russian military bases in Syria earlier this month.

It came after Russia's Defence Ministry displayed a pair of drones that it said were captured following attacks on two Russian military bases in Syria, saying the attack required know-how indicating it was carried out with outside assistance.

Putin added that he spoke to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and that Turkey had nothing to do with the attack, which the defence ministry has said took place overnight on January 6.

Following the drone attack, the Russian Defence Ministry sent letters to Turkey's military leaders, asking them to deploy military observers to help prevent further attacks from Idlib on Russian assets.

The ministry said Saturday's raid on the Hmeimim air base in the province of Lattakia and Russia's naval facility in the port of Tartus involved 13 drones. 

It said seven were downed by air defence systems and the remaining six were forced to land by Russian electronic warfare units.

Of the latter, three exploded when they hit the ground and three more were captured intact, the ministry said.

The drone raid on Russian bases came just weeks after Putin declared a victory in Syria and ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian forces from the country.

'Involvement of experts' 

The Defence Ministry presented two primitive-looking drones at a briefing, arguing that they featured state-of-the art electronics that are less prone to jamming and allow precision strikes.

Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov, who heads the ministry's drone department, said the drones used in the weekend's raid on the Russian bases differed from the rudimentary craft earlier used by rebels in Syria. The attack required satellite navigation data that aren't available on the internet, complex engineering works and elaborate tests, Novikov said.

"The creation of drones of such class is impossible in makeshift conditions," Novikov said. "Their development and use requires the involvement of experts with special training in the countries that manufacture and use drones."

'Strange coincidence' of US plane

Novikov didn't blame any specific country, but the Defence Ministry earlier referred to the "strange coincidence" of a US military intelligence plane allegedly barraging over the Mediterranean near the Russian bases when the attack took place.

The Pentagon strongly denied any involvement.

The Defence Ministry said the drones were launched from al Mouazzara in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, over 50 kilometres (more than 30 miles) away from the Russian bases.

The province has become the main rallying point for various rebel factions after Syrian regime forces won control over large swathes of territory thanks to Russian support.

Source: AP