The Russian news agency Interfax is reporting that a so far unnamed member of Russia’s Federation Council – the upper house of Russia’s parliament – has said that the thirteen drones which on Saturday attempted unsuccessfully to attack Russia’s two Syrian bases in Khmeimim and Tartus could only have been shipped from the US.
Note that this does not outright say that the US supplied the drones to the Jihadis who carried out the attack, though it comes very close.
The Interfax report of the statement about the US origin of the drones by the member of Russia’s Federation Council is dated 16:31 hours Moscow time. At 16:50 hours Moscow time – ie. just 20 minutes later – Interfax reported the Russian Ministry of Defence saying that at the time of the drone attack on Russia’s Syrian bases a US reconnaissance plane was spotted flying over the Mediterranean.
The Interfax report does not actually say that the US aircraft was flying in the vicinity of the two bases, but the implication is that it was, and the timing of the two Interfax reports – separated from each other by just 20 minutes – suggests that the timing of the statements of the member of Russia’s Federation Council and of the Russian Ministry of Defence has been coordinated.
The usually well-informed Lebanese news agency Al-Masdar has previously reported that the drone attack on the two Russian bases in Syria was carried out by ISIS, presumably operating from its remaining holdout areas in Idlib province.
The US for its part is saying that the technology used in the drone attacks is commercially available, and it is important to say that even if a US reconnaissance aircraft was indeed flying close to the Russian bases at the time of the attack, this may be no more than a coincidence. It is after all hardly unusual for US reconnaissance aircraft to be flying in the vicinity of Russian bases.
However all the indications are that a major row between the US and Russia is brewing, with the Russians coming very close to saying that the US had a hand in the attack, and perhaps saying it outright over the next few hours or days.
We shall keep you informed as more information appears.